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Legislature Considers Teacher Layoff Rules Changes

HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow school administrators to base layoff decisions in part on teachers’ performance, as measured by the state’s new evaluation system, according to The Pennsylvania Independent online news service.

Legislature Considers Teacher Layoff Rules ChangesReporter Mary C. Tillotson wrote that, if the layoff rules bill passes, Pennsylvania would join 22 other states that require seniority to be only one of several factors in teacher layoff decisions. Of those, 18 states explicitly mandate teacher performance be considered, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Pennsylvania’s evaluation system, which will be fully in place next year and is being implemented now in the Pottsgrove School District, includes a variety of measures for teacher performance, which the council considers a plus, Tillotson wrote. Those measures include student growth data, measured in various ways, and classroom observations.

Pennsylvania law allows teachers to attain permanent status after three years on the job.

The Association of American Educators doesn’t have a position on the Pennsylvania bill, said Alix Freeze, senior director of communications and advocacy for the group, but 78 percent of its members nationwide disagree with seniority-based layoffs in its 2014 membership poll.

The Pennsylvania State Educators Association opposes the bill, but its spokespeople didn’t return calls for comment.
Opponents of the bill have expressed concern the evaluation system may not give an accurate portrait of a teacher’s effectiveness. Some have argued increased funding for schools would decrease the need for layoffs.

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