Requirements for Teacher Tenure in Illinois

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Teachers in Illinois face sweeping legislation changes, according to "Education Weekly Magazine." As of 2011, the new proposed legislation will make it much easier to terminate teachers and reduce teachers’ ability to strike. Under the proposed new law, teachers can only receive tenure based on their student test score results, according to the "Wall Street Journal." In addition, teachers in Illinois can be denied tenure unless they receive either a “proficient” or “excellent” peer evaluation.

Illinois School Code

Under the current law, full-time teachers in Illinois are eligible for tenure after completing a two-year probationary period. Candidates who receive a written notice of dismissal at least 45 days before the termination of their probationary period are ineligible for tenure. During their probationary period, teachers must complete four consecutive school terms. President Obama’s, Race to the Top initiative provides a $3.4 billion national initiative for school districts that are willing to overhaul their education system, particularly in relation to job protection and the rights of teachers. In January 2011, Illinois lawmakers considered making legislation changes to the existing Illinois school code, and have struck a deal with union leaders and education advocates.

Seniority

Under the current school code, Illinois teachers receive tenure based on seniority and years of service. Teachers unions also have bargaining rights during budget shortfalls, which stipulate that teachers with the least experience face layoffs first, a policy known as “last in, first out.” Based on the new proposed law, Illinois teachers may no longer have this bargaining privilege. Instead, teachers would be granted tenure based on the quality of education that students receive and the standardized testing scores of students rather than on the basis of seniority.

Relevant Experience

Illinois teachers who meet their licensure and probationary teaching requirements cannot be denied tenure, under the current legislation. Reforms to this law would ensure that tenure for Illinois teachers would be granted on the basis of relevant experience in addition to meeting licensure and probationary teaching requirements. Under the new law, Illinois teachers will have to demonstrate their qualifications and teaching ability based on performance evaluations. All teachers would have to receive positive performance evaluations before receiving tenure. New teachers with excellent performance ratings would also qualify for tenure.

Considerations

In April 2011, the new Illinois education law cleared the state senate, according to the "Chicago Sun Times." Professional teaching associations such as, the National Education Association approve of using teacher evaluations for granting tenure. However, NEA officials call for more sophisticated tests for evaluating teacher impact rather than simply relying on standardized test scores. As it stands, Illinois teachers are eligible for tenure as long as they satisfy their licensure requirements and complete a two-year probationary period.

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