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Teacher Tenure Rate Drops to Record Low

By Jill Colvin | August 17, 2012 3:38pm
The percentage of teachers getting tenure has plummeted over the past two years.
The percentage of teachers getting tenure has plummeted over the past two years.
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NEW YORK CITY — The percentage of teachers getting tenure has dropped to another record low.

Just 55 percent of eligible public school teachers received tenure in the 2011-2012 school year, according to new number released by the Department of Education Friday. That's a huge drop from the whopping 97 percent of teachers who received tenure back in 2006-2007, before the city overhauled the system to make it much tougher last year.

“Receiving tenure is no longer an automatic right, and our new approach ensures that teachers who are granted tenure have earned it,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

However, the numbers also suggest that many more teachers may qualify for the benefits at a later date.

The percentage of teachers receiving tenure has dropped dramatically over the past two years.
The percentage of teachers receiving tenure has dropped dramatically over the past two years.
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Department of Education

Under the new system, teachers can either be approved or denied tenure, or receive "extensions," which allow them to be reconsidered the following year.

The stats show that 42 percent of this year's 3,954 eligible teachers received extensions. Just 3 percent received flat-out denials — nearly identical to the number over the past five years.

And the data suggests that many of those teachers will go on to earn tenure in the coming years.

Of the 2,031 teachers who received extensions in the 2010-2011 school year, more than 40 percent were awarded tenure when they were reviewed again in 2011-2012, according to the stats.

That means that more than three quarters of the teachers who were up for review for the first time last year — a whopping 77 percent— received tenure either this year or the last— a huge jump from the 39 percent the DOE hailed at a press conference last year.

And those who haven't received tenure yet will have yet another chance to be considered this coming year, potentially pushing the number even higher.

DOE officials, however, said the extensions are intended to give teachers more time to master their crafts, and that as long as they're learning, earning tenure is deserved.

Under the new requirements, principals must provide detailed evidence to support their tenure recommendations based in teachers' performance in the classroom, “evidence of student learning” and “contributions to the school community.”

Teachers are rated on a four-point scale: ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective on each of the measures, using data from classroom observations, test scores, attendance, and student and parent feedback.

But teachers' union president Michael Mulgrew said the city needs to come up with better system for helping teachers develop throughout their careers.

"These numbers — combined with the fact that nearly one-third of the teachers hired for the 2008-2009 school year walked out the door before they were even eligible for tenure — demonstrate that the administration has yet to figure out how to provide new teachers with the proper supports that will help them become more successful," he said.

The number of teachers eligible for tenure dropped substantially this year, from 5,209 in 2010-2011 to 3,954 in 2011-2012, because of the teacher hiring freeze.

Teachers are eligible for tenure after three years.