Brian Jacob study featured in Chicago Tribune article, "Principals given flexibility in firing teachers showed they could evaluate well, study indicates"

July 19, 2011

The Chicago Tribune published an article examining the findings of a study by Brian Jacob on the effects of new firing practices in the Chicago Public School System.

Per a new collective bargaining agreement introduced in 2004, principals in the Chicago Public School System are free to dismiss or retain probationary teachers with much less oversight than is typical of large urban public school systems. The study showed that, with this freedom and discretion in decision-making, principals tended to fire teachers who had performed less effectively. Eleven percent of probationary teachers are fired every year, but the study showed that a teacher's chance of being fired increased sharply when they had performed poorly on certain evaluations of performance, including absences and the standardized test scores of their students. This constitutes a more performance-oriented system of teacher employment than existed prior to the new collective bargaining agreement - before 2004, few teachers were fired at all.

The study shows that performance, rather than a teacher's level of experience or time spent in the school system, can be an important factor in teacher dismissals. "There's been concerns by unions that principals don't know what is going on in the classroom in large high schools or they may know what's going on but for personal reasons they don't base decisions on who is most effective, but rather who they like," Jacob told the Chicago Tribune. "What we found is that principals can identify teachers who are more productive and that it's important to them in making dismissals."