At the end of each school year every teacher receives a rating: for tenured teachers an “S” or a “U,” for probationary teachers either an “S” or a “D” or a “U.” U rated probationary teachers teachers can, at the discretion of the principal and the approval of the superintendent, also be “discontinued,” aka fired.
After three years of satisfactory service a probationary teacher “achieves” tenure. Probationary teachers who are “discontinued” can appeal. The Department holds an administrative hearing as a recommendation to the Chancellor. It is rare for a probationary “discontinuance” to be overturned.
Chancellor Klein has made the process of granting tenure to probationary teachers a core initiative of his administration.
How many probationary teachers are formally denied tenure?
Under one percent of teachers are formally denied tenure in any one year.
How many probationary teachers leave the school system voluntarily?
I understand that 37% of probationary teachers leave voluntarily. (source: discussion with journalists)
The new Tenure Notification System is nothing new. For decades superintendents have informed principals of the probationary status of teachers annually.
The data points to a core issue: not unsatisfactory teachers receiving tenure, but, the enormous number of probationary teachers who leave the system.
More than half of teachers in high poverty schools leave within five years – this is a national, not NYC figure.
The Insight column in the current issue of the New York Teacher discusses the issue of retaining teachers as well as attracting teachers to high poverty/low achieving schools. A California-based not-for-profit claims success in retaining new teachers.
What is the Klein administration doing to retain new teachers?
The answer: nothing.
New York State requires a new teacher mentoring program, it is not treated seriously by the administration.
Mentoring and support comes from the teacher next door or down the hall. Hundreds of schools are lead by novice principals who are struggling to survive. The only focused support is from the UFT Teacher Centers, if a school is lucky enough to house a Center.
Why do newer teachers leave?
Uniformly, across the country: lack of supervisory support.
The Department gleefully makes plans to publicly spank probationary teachers – while the very same teachers flee the system.
An irony: after the teacher union president rallied public school parents and advocates and began to cane the Chancellor he backed away from his threats re denying tenure to probationary teachers.
The core issue is the staggering number of newer teachers that leave the system each and every year and the failure of the Department to address this issue.
The Department grade, using School Quality Review language: underdeveloped, or, School Progress Report metrics, an “F.”