New York City has slashed the number of public-school instructors receiving tenure this year — part of an effort to link teacher advancement to student performance, Mayor Bloomberg announced Wednesday.
Of the more than 5,200 teachers who received decisions this year, 58 percent were granted tenure, down from 89 percent last year and 94 percent the year before that.
For the 39 percent of teachers who had tenure decisions postponed for at least another year, the delay is the city's way "of telling them that while they have shown progress they are still developing as teachers and need to improve," said Bloomberg, who added that the instructors would be given special training and support to help them reach city standards.
"Tenure is now something that is to be earned," he said.
In September, the mayor announced on national television that he would overhaul the city's tenure system to raise instructor standards — arguing that the city had long granted the protection more or less automatically after three years of service, thereby preventing teachers from being fired without an administrative hearing.
The teachers' union expressed concern over Wednesday's announcement.
"The process of granting tenure must be rigorous, but it also must be consistent and transparent," United Federation of Teachers Secretary Michael Mendel said in a statement. "We have serious questions about how the DOE reached these conclusions and concerns that they failed to base these decisions on pedagogy or job performance."
The city's new tenure policy requires that teachers be rated effective or highly effective in each of three categories for two years in a row. The city says the teachers are evaluated on classroom practices, evidence of student learning and contributions to school community. The evaluation includes student state test scores — a measure the union has opposed.
This year, the city had about 75,000 teachers teaching more than a million public school students. While a city budget deal reached last month averted instructor layoffs, about 2,600 teachers who quit or retire this year are not expected to be replaced.