Probationary Term of Service For Teachers

During the 2013 Virginia General Assembly Session, a bill in the Senate (SB 1223 Public Schools: evaluation policies and grievance procedures) sponsored by Senator Norment passed and will bring changes to the process by which teachers and certain administrators (assistant principals and principals) are evaluated.  While formal and informal teacher evaluations will continue to be utilized, evaluations in the future will include academic progress as a significant component. In addition, legislation allows local school boards to increase from three to five years of probationary service required before a teacher becomes eligible for a continuing contract.

This legislation amended the Code of Virginia  to identify the “probationary term of service at least three years  and at the adoption of the local school board , up to five years  in the same school division shall be required before a teacher is issued a continuing contract.  The probationary term of three or up to five years may be made on a case-by-case individual teacher basis.  The amendment to the statute becomes effective July 1, 2013. This legislation was not intended to deny teachers eligible for continuing contract after successfully teaching three years at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

An additional time frame is the written notice of a noncontinuation of the contract by the board or the the teacher by June 15  of each year.

So, all well and good many may say. This legislation could be helpful to administrators for the beginning teachers who may need, in the mind of the principal,  time beyond the third year to develop enough professionally before making a decision to retain or release. 

There may be another side of this legislation that could cause administrative heartburn. The option of determining continuing contract on a case-by-case basis may be an issue. This is what administrators do now within the three year time frame.  Using the extended five year time frame for a teacher will come down to a judgement call and for some teachers who do not receive this option, a call to their favorite attorney may be a recourse and an administrator’s headache.  Time will tell.

If you would like to access the superintendent’s memo, please go to