Public schools, colleges and universities offer teachers tenure after they have fulfilled certain requirements, which vary by organization. Tenure does not guarantee a teacher's job for life, but it does guarantee that schools must follow due process procedures before firing or dismissing a teacher. Tenure may make a teacher feel more secure, but the fact remains that if a school needs to lay off a teacher due to budget cuts, or if the school finds that the teacher's performance is lacking, tenure will not protect the teacher from being let go.
Teachers must complete a probationary period to be considered tenured. The National Education Association reports that, on average, teachers must teach successfully for three to four years before being granted tenure. During the probationary period, teachers can be dismissed without reason.
Before school districts give teachers tenure, they evaluate the teacher's performance regularly over several years. Teachers may be evaluated by multiple administrators in their local school and by administrators from the school district's main office. Criteria for successfully passing teacher evaluation vary greatly from one school district to another. Teachers may find evaluations frustrating when the evaluations vary according to who is conducting the evaluation and when evaluation criteria is not clearly explained.
Some teachers may be required to meet certain education requirements to achieve tenure. Educational requirements may include taking a certain number of graduate courses, completing a master's degree or attending a certain number of educational conferences or professional development conferences within a certain timeframe. Teachers may have to submit a portfolio summarizing their educational and professional development experiences.
Some states and school districts may not offer tenure to teachers at all. In these cases, teachers should consider joining a professional teacher organization such as the National Education Association or the United Federation of Teachers. These organizations will provide legal support and assistance to teachers who are fired or mistreated by their employer.