Most teacher layoffs during the Great Recession were implemented following inverse-seniority policies. In this paper, I examine the implementation of a discretionary layoff policy in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Administrators did not uniformly lay off the most or least senior teachers but instead selected teachers who were previously retired, late-hired, unlicensed, low-performing, or nontenured. Using quasi-experimental variation within schools across grades, I then estimate the differential effects of teacher layoffs on student achievement based on teacher seniority and effectiveness. Mathematics achievement in grades that lost an effective teacher, as measured by principal evaluations or value-added scores, decreased 0.05 to 0.11 standard deviations more than in grades that lost an ineffective teacher. In contrast, teacher seniority has limited predictive power on the effects of layoffs. Simulation analyses show that the district selected teachers who were, on average, less effective than those teachers identified under an inverse-seniority policy, and also reduced job losses.
Year of publication
Education Finance and Policy