A Worm in the Apple?
The Implications of Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs

Stories abound about the staffing cuts that will have to be made currently, and in the next couple of years, as the ripple effects of the economic crisis impact local and state education budgets. Major budget cuts make teacher layoffs a near inevitability. This raises two very timely questions: what now determines which teachers are laid off, and is that policy best for students?

A significant body of empirical research shows that the specific teachers to which students are assigned can have dramatic effects on their achievement. Research by economist Eric Hanushek (1992), for instance, estimates that the difference between having a very effective versus a very ineffective teacher can be as much as a full year's learning growth. So are the significant differences in teacher effectiveness part of the equation when making tough decisions about which teachers will lose their jobs?

The research I describe here suggests that the answer to this question is a definitive "no." Empirical analysis reflects what is hard-wired into collective bargaining agreements (CBAs): seniority is the most important factor when deciding which teachers are laid off. Not only does this seniority-driven system not consider teacher effectiveness, but it also results in substantially more teachers being laid off to achieve specific budget targets because senior teachers, whose jobs are protected, earn more than novice teachers. This research also tellingly finds that the novice teachers laid off are often more effective than the senior teachers left behind. Looking at Washington state data on teacher effectiveness and teacher layoffs, we find that current layoff policy could lead to students losing 2 to 4 months of learning in the year after the layoffs.

Read the full paper as an Adobe Acrobat PDF

.Dan Goldhaber is a research professor at The Center for Education Data & Research

 

 

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/Lise Gagne

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Dan
Goldhaber

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.