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50-State Comparison: Teacher Employment Contract Policies

Teacher employment contract policies can impact teacher compensation and benefits, performance evaluations and retention. These are key issues for state policymakers amid growing teacher activism and an emphasis on quality instruction. States have implemented policies that address continuing contract provisions, the nonrenewal or termination of teacher contracts, reduction-in-force protocols and collective bargaining rights.

This resource provides a national comparison of teacher employment contract policies in all states. All of the information was gathered from and focused on state statutes and regulations. State case law was also utilized for metrics related to collective bargaining. Data collection focused specifically on policy that addresses teacher employment contracts. This does not include criminal code and may not include policy related to teacher licensure or misconduct.

Click on the metrics below for 50-State Comparisons showing how all states approach these policies. Or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

Key Takeaways

  • At least 46 states require at least three years of service to attain nonprobationary status.
  • At least 10 states explicitly require a teacher to be returned to probationary status as a result of poor evaluation ratings.
  • At least 17 states require tenure or seniority status to be used as a primary factor in reduction-in-force determinations. At least 16 states require teacher evaluations to be used as a primary factor. At least nine states prohibit the use of seniority as a primary or sole factor.
  • Enrollment and economic matters were the two most commonly cited permissible reasons for a reduction in force. At least 24 states explicitly permit a reduction in force in cases of decreased enrollment, and at least 17 states permit one for financial reasons.
  • At least 46 states explicitly allow collective bargaining for public school teachers.
  • At least 36 states explicitly prohibit teacher strikes.

50-State Comparisons

Click on the items below to see data for all states

Continuing Contracts

  1. What are the requirements to earn nonprobationary status?
  2. Does state policy allow a teacher to be returned to probationary status as a disciplinary measure or as a professional improvement plan intervention?
  3. Does state policy allow a teacher to transfer nonprobationary status to a different school or district?

Nonrenewal or Termination

  1. What is the process for a nonrenewal determination?
  2. What reasons are provided in state policy for the dismissal of a teacher?

Reduction in Force

  1. When does state policy allow a reduction in force?
  2. What are reduction-in-force determinations based on?
  3. What reemployment rights do teachers have following a reduction in force?

Collective Bargaining

  1. Does state policy allow collective bargaining?
  2. What is the permitted scope of collective bargaining?
  3. Does state policy allow teacher strikes?

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July 29, 2020

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