Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs

Add this credible and quantitative research to
the growing list of reports finding seniority-based layoffs to be detrimental
both to student learning and to the bottom line. From the CEDR, the report
analyzes data on over 2,000 Washington state teachers who received reduction-in-force
(RIF) notices during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years—primarily on a
first hired, last fired model. It then compared these seniority-based layoffs
to a number of proposed performance-based layoff models—each using a different
metric for value-added. In a computer simulation, the seniority-based model
caused student learning to lag by two to four months compared to a
performance-based model, and under it African American students were 50 percent
more likely to have their teachers laid off than were white students (compared
to 20 percent more likely in the performance-based scenario). Further, the
study found that performance-based layoffs would save up to 10 percent of the state’s
teacher workforce, as fewer tenured, higher-paid teachers would need to be
pink-slipped to meet budget quotas. Many states, including Fordham’s home state
of Ohio, have laws
that require all teacher layoffs to be based on seniority alone—laws that, in
light of this study’s findings, legislators would do well to cut.

Goldhaber and Roddy Theobald, “Assessing
the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs
,” (Seattle, WA: Center
for Education Data and Research, December 2010).