Understanding Data about Teacher Qualifications

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  • WINSS data about teacher qualifications are based on an audit of data submitted by Wisconsin School Districts on the Fall Staff Report and data on DPI's educator license database. Licenses issued by DPI after the date of the audit or inaccurate reporting of assignments by districts could result in some teachers erroneously listed as unlicensed or not ESEA qualified.
  • Check "Total # of FTE teachers" before reaching conclusions about the significance of high or low percents. Note that "Total # of FTE teachers" is included in the table below each graph. Percents may be misleading if the total number of FTE teachers is small. One teacher may mean the difference between a high percent or a low percent. For example, if the "Total # of FTE teachers" is two and if one teacher has an "emergency license", then 50% have an "emergency license." This percent might be cause for more concern if the "Total # of FTE teachers" were 200 and 100 of these teachers had "emergency licenses."
  • "ESEA qualified" status applies only to staff teaching ESEA core subjects. Consequently, "ESEA Qualified" links may be disabled on WINSS if certain "Subject Taught" links are selected, and vice versa.
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What is the difference between full and emergency licenses in Wisconsin?

Full license means the teacher holds a regular license based on completing an approved teacher education program in their specific assignment(s).

Emergency license means the teacher holds an emergency license based on not yet completing an approved teacher education program in their specific assignment(s).

Why might some teachers with "full licenses" be reported in the "emergency license" group?

Required qualifications for Wisconsin licenses vary by type of teaching work assigned. Content areas and levels/needs of students taught are both factors. For example, a full-time teacher may have a "full license" for one assignment and an "emergency license" for another. If half the time that teacher is assigned work for which they have a "full license" and the other half the time that teacher is assigned work for which they have "emergency license" then the teacher is reported as 0.5 FTE in the "full license" group and 0.5 FTE in the "emergency license" group.

How is experience counted?

Any experience in education is counted. Experience may or may not be as a teacher. The experience includes time through the reported school year.

What degrees are counted?

The degree is the highest degree of higher learning attained by the teacher regardless of qualifications used on the job. The degree may or may not be teaching or education-related.

What does it mean to be ESEA qualified?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) includes the term "highly qualified" to refer to teachers whose experience and training meet specific criteria. On WINSS, teachers who meet these criteria are referred to as "ESEA qualified." This status applies only to staff assigned to teach ESEA core subjects.

What is the difference between having a full Wisconsin license and being ESEA qualified?

State licensing laws and rules are not always equivalent to ESEA criteria. Teachers who are ESEA qualified may not have a full Wisconsin license and vice versa. For example, a teacher with a degree or major in math, employed as a math teacher without a full Wisconsin license but with an emergency license, is considered ESEA qualified so long as he or she completes all licensing requirements within 3 years and is provided supervision or mentoring by the school district.

What are core subjects?

Core subjects are defined by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and include "English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography." Wisconsin data are reported by Wisconsin Model Academic Standards (WMAS) subject areas. In Wisconsin, the WMAS subjects of English language arts, mathematics, science, foriegn languages, social studies (i.e. civics and government, economics, history, and geography), art and design, dance, music, and theatre are treated as ESEA core subjects. Social studies includes some non-core areas (e.g. psychology and sociology), but FTE teachers teaching non-core social studies courses have historically been less than 10% of the total number of FTE social studies teachers.

Why aren't all the WMAS subjects listed in the "Subject Taught" options?

Generally, WMAS subjects were included as options if there were a sufficient number of FTE teachers teaching in those subjects to make the information more useful than individual teacher data at the school level. If the number of FTE teachers in a subject area was at least a few thousand statewide (there are 2000 Wisconsin schools), then the WMAS subject area option was provided. Even in these cases, the graphs and percents can be misleading due to small FTE counts at a particular school. See cautions above. License status of individual teachers is available from Wisconsin's Online Educator License Data Base.

What data are used in the WINSS summaries of teacher qualifications?

Qualifications are summarized based on data about assignments and the backgrounds of teachers performing those assignments as of the third Friday of September of each school year. Data about teacher assignments, experience, and degrees earned are collected from school districts as part of the annual Fall (September) Staff Report (PI 1202). Data about teacher licenses are collected from prospective and current teachers on an ongoing basis as part of the DPI teacher licensing process. Summaries are based on where a teacher works.

Why might these data be incorrect?

WINSS data reflect staff assignments reported as of the 3rd Friday of September. If assignments were not reported accurately, some teachers may be reported as having "no license for assignment." The teachers and their reported assignments are cross referenced with the DPI license database at the end of the school year. If a teacher does not hold an appropriate license for their reported assignments, or if the teacher has not yet applied for or been issued their licenses for the reported school year, the teacher would be reported as having "no license for assignment" for the assignment(s). Teachers will be listed as having "no license for assignment" and not "ESEA Qualified" unless the audit data support reporting as licensed and "ESEA Qualified."

Do these data include all schools and all teachers in Wisconsin?

Only schools required by law to submit School Performance Report data (e.g. grade advancement, dropouts, etc.) are included in WINSS summaries. This means that, in general, all teachers working in public schools (including charter schools) in school districts or in non-district charter schools are counted. Teachers working in these schools are included whether or not their salaries are paid for directly by a school district or subcontracted through an outside source paid for by a school district.

All teachers working in covered schools are counted. Note that short-term substitutes (assignments less than 20 days, position code 43) and teacher interns (position code 53, assignment code 0970)are not included in the FTE counts. Speech/language pathologists (position code 84) are included, but beginning in 2003-04 they count under Special Education Summary and Summary - All Subjects only.

Prior to 2011-12 non-teaching time (such as classroom preparation time) was not included in counts of teachers on WINSS, but in 2011-12 these counts were retroactively changed to include this time. This retroactive change was made to provide more consistent/comparable teacher counts across schools and over time. Counts excluding non-teaching time may be downloaded.

Teachers reported as working in Cooperative Educational Service Agencies, County Disability Education Boards, State Department of Corrections schools, State Department of Health Services schools, and (as of 2012-13) Wisconsin School for the Deaf and Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired are not included in WINSS counts.Teachers working in private schools are also not included, and these data are not available from DPI.

What information do these data provide about qualifications of teachers in the state's highest poverty schools?

Wisconsin's goal is to have a qualified teacher in every classroom in every school, especially high poverty schools. Current data about ESEA Qualified Teachers by School Poverty Level are available for download in Excel format.


See Wisconsin's Consolidated State Performance Report for School Year 2006-07 (page 36), School Year 2007-08 (page 43), and School Year 2008-09 (page 46) for more information about teachers teaching core subjects disaggregated by school poverty status.

WINSS scatterplots can be used to study associations between teacher qualifications, school poverty levels, and other variables in greater depth. These scatterplots are meant to be discussion starters. In study after study, teacher quality is found to be positively correlated with student outcomes. School improvement teams may find these scatterplots useful when working to identify possible explanations for recruitment or retention issues and ideas for improving teacher qualifications to address student needs.

Where can I find more information?

Go to:
Using Teacher Qualifications Scatterplots on WINSS
Questions to Consider When Using Teacher Data
Educator Licensing
Search Wisconsin's Online Educator License Data Base
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Rules: PI-34
ESEA Regulations: Definition of "Highly Qualified" Sec. 200.56.
ESEA Regulations: Definition of "Core Academic Subjects" Sec. 200.55.
View relationship between teacher assignments, WMAS subjects, and ESEA core indicators (Excel)
WINSS Download Options
Teacher FTE Counts Excluding Non-Teaching Time
ESEA-Qualified Teachers by School Poverty Level
Wisconsin School Staff: Salary, Position & Demographic Reports

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