Teacher Tenure Reform Coming to Illinois?

Rachel Sheffield /

It’s the beginning of a new year, and Illinois isn’t wasting any time getting education reform off to a good start. Teacher tenure reform is currently on the hotplate of Illinois lawmakers, with the House being set to vote on a measure January 12.

The proposed legislation would “link teacher tenure to student test scores,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Under Illinois’s current system, “new teachers are offered tenure after three years on the job unless there are serious concerns about their work. After that, districts face a certain, protracted legal challenge to any attempt to dismiss a tenured teacher,” writes Collin Hitt, director of education policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Not only would the new law base teacher evaluation on student outcomes; it would require tenure to be “renewed every two years based on frequent, rigorous evaluations.”

A study of three Illinois school districts—Chicago, Rockford, and Elgin—found that less than half a percent of all teachers in these districts received an unsatisfactory evaluation in four years, despite low student test scores and graduation rates. This suggests, according to Hitt, that “teacher evaluations are not being credibly used.” (more…)