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A Study of the Effects of the Teacher Tenure Law in New Jersey

by Raleigh W. Holmstedt - 1932

This study attempts to evaluate the effects of the tenure of service law for teachers in New Jersey.

THIS study attempts to evaluate the effects of the tenure of service law for teachers in New Jersey. Consideration was given to the effects of the law upon dismissal of teachers, stability of the teaching staff, professional improvement of teachers, and administrative policies relative to the selection of teachers.

The investigation was confined to the instructional staff of school systems having from 10 to 350 teachers. The data were obtained by questionnaires and from official documents.

In order to determine some of the effects of the New Jersey teacher tenure law, the data from New Jersey were compared with similar data obtained from comparable school systems in Connecticut. Information concerning dismissal of teachers, teacher turnover, salaries, and administrative policies was obtained from 79 school systems of New Jersey and 51 school systems of Connecticut. Facts concerning teaching experience and professional improvement in service were obtained from 1,695 teachers in New Jersey and 1,718 teachers in Connecticut. In addition, opinions concerning teacher tenure and the problems due to the tenure of service law were obtained from 33 superintendents and 123 presidents of boards of education in New Jersey.


Comparisons between the data collected in New Jersey and the data collected in Connecticut show that the New Jersey tenure law has not resulted in a substantial reduction in the dismissal of teachers. In New Jersey, however, dismissal is confined almost entirely to the probationary period, while in Connecticut dismissal frequently occurs after extended terms of service. Contrary to prevailing opinion that a large percentage of dismissal occurs at the end of the three-year probationary period, approximately 60 per cent of all dismissals in New Jersey occur during the first year of service. The tenure law has increased the difficulty of dismissing teachers on tenure; consequently many unsatisfactory teachers are retained in the school systems. The tenure law apparently affords a large degree of protection for the experienced teacher, but the beginning teacher finds it more difficult to retain a position.

The tenure law has increased the stability of the teaching staffs of New Jersey schools. The comparisons with Connecticut school systems show a lower rate of teacher turnover and a smaller amount of teacher transiency in New Jersey. Experienced teachers change positions more frequently in Connecticut than in New Jersey, a condition which, no doubt, results in part from the tenure law. However, dismissal is a greater factor in teacher turnover in New Jersey than in Connecticut.

There is no evidence that tenure has resulted in decreased interest in professional improvement among New Jersey teachers. The data show that any tendency for teachers on tenure to make less effort to improve professionally can be overcome to a large extent by salary schedules based on training, rather than on experience alone.

This investigation shows that the tenure law is a definite advantage for married women teachers, but tends to operate against the selection of local residents as teachers.

No significant differences are apparent between the methods of employing teachers in New Jersey and in Connecticut, but the evidence indicates that school executives of New Jersey exercise more care in the selecting process, particularly of those teachers who are given tenure.

Teachers, superintendents, and school board presidents regard protection from dismissal and petty social attacks as the chief benefit of the tenure law. The greatest problems arise in the difficulty of dismissal of unsatisfactory teachers.

Considerable opposition to the tenure law in New Jersey exists and this opposition has been reflected in numerous attempts to have the law repealed. The evidence indicates that the principle of tenure is difficult to establish in the school systems of a state and that a considerable period of adjustment is necessary before a tenure law can be expected to function smoothly.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 34 Number 3, 1932, p. 237-238
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 7279, Date Accessed: 5/25/2022 12:34:57 PM

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