Study Group

Seniority-Based Layoffs

This study focuses on the implications of seniority-based teacher layoff policies.

In the 2008-09 school year, over 2000 teachers in Washington State received layoff notices, and continued tough economic times suggest that there will be more. Teachers who received these notices can be linked to Washington State data on students and schools to help answer four key policy questions:

1) Are there characteristics, other than seniority, that predict the likelihood that teachers are laid off?

2) What are the characteristics of students at schools where layoffs occurred?

3) Given the prevailing salary structure in Washington, what are the budgetary implications of seniority-based layoffs?

4) How effective are those teachers who received layoff notices as compared to those who did not?

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Goldhaber, D. and Theobald, R. (2013). Managing the teacher workforce in austere times: The determinants and implications of teacher layoffs. Education Finance and Policy 8(4), 494–527.
Goldhaber, D. and Theobald, R. (2011). Managing the teacher workforce: The consequences of “last in, first out” personnel policies. Education Next 11(4), Fall 2011, 78-83.
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Goldhaber, D. and Theobald, R. (2020). The COVID-19 crisis and teacher layoffs: Research on how to mitigate harm. CALDER Policy Brief No. 20-0620.
Goldhaber, D. and Theobald, R. (2011). Seniority-based layoffs hurt schools, students. Tacoma News Tribune, July 4, 2011.

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