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New Report Released: "When Tenure Ends: Teacher Turnover in Response to Policy Changes in Louisiana"

February 22, 2017

A new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University provides evidence on how a 2012 bill, which made major changes to teacher tenure and empowered districts to dismiss ineffective teachers in Louisiana, affected teacher turnover in traditional public schools.

The study’s authors, Katharine O. Strunk, Nathan Bar­rett, and Jane Arnold Lin­cove, find that the over­all exit rate for tra­di­tion­al pub­lic school teach­ers increased 3.7 per­cent­age points in the two years fol­low­ing the reform. Their analy­ses sug­gest that this increase stemmed pri­mar­i­ly from the depar­ture of teach­ers who held tenure pri­or to the reform, as these teach­ers expe­ri­enced the great­est loss of job secu­ri­ty. The exit rate increase was espe­cial­ly pro­nounced for teach­ers who were near­ing retire­ment. Our exam­i­na­tion of exit trends,” Strunk said, con­clud­ed that teach­ers who were eli­gi­ble for full retire­ment ben­e­fits were 2.6 per­cent­age points more like­ly to exit after the 2011 school year than their retire­ment-inel­i­gi­ble coun­ter­parts, which is not sur­pris­ing because retire­ment-eli­gi­ble teach­ers were already on the cusp of exit­ing and more sen­si­tive to pol­i­cy changes.” The study also finds that exit rate increas­es were notice­ably high­er in schools with very low stan­dard­ized test scores. Accord­ing to Lin­cove, Schools with F’ rat­ings from the state showed teacher exit increas­es of 2 per­cent­age points per year, while A‑rated schools saw essen­tial­ly no change. This indi­cates that the reform had a dis­pro­por­tion­ate impact on schools with F’ rat­ings, which often face the great­est staffing chal­lenges.” Look­ing close­ly at the two years fol­low­ing the reform, our esti­mates sug­gest that the tenure reform is respon­si­ble for the exit of 1,500 to 1,700 teach­ers,” Bar­rett said. Our find­ings offer evi­dence that teach­ers val­ued the job secu­ri­ty that tenure pro­vides, and, there­fore, per­ceived the removal of tenure employ­ment pro­tec­tions as a decrease in the over­all val­ue of their jobs.” While this study focus­es on the effects of Louisiana’s teacher tenure reform, the Edu­ca­tion Research Alliance for New Orleans has forth­com­ing stud­ies exam­in­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of the Com­pass eval­u­a­tion sys­tem, post-Kat­ri­na changes in edu­ca­tor com­pen­sa­tion, and teach­ers’ per­cep­tions of New Orleans pub­licly fund­ed schools from those who taught before and after Hur­ri­cane Katrina.