Understanding Data about Teacher Qualifications

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Teacher quality is a key element of student academic success. Data about teacher qualifications can be used to inform school improvement discussions and are reported annually for all public schools and districts statewide on WINSS. Scatterplots are provided to promote comparisions across districts and schools and to examine possible associations between teacher qualifications and other school and student variables.


  • In 2013-14, DPI was transitioning to a new educator licensing system. As part of this transition, the licensing database used to audit 2013-14 teacher data was shut down in December 2013. Licensing data submitted and licenses issued in spring of the school year, normally considered in the annual audit, were not considered in the 2013-14 audit. As a result, 2013-14 teachers with spring licensing updates may be erroneously listed as unlicensed or not ESEA qualified.
  • 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.

Definitions of Key Terms

For definitions, see the WISEdash Glossary (includes terms used in WINSS)

For definitions used in collecting teacher FTE assignment, experience, and higher education data, see Fall Staff Reporting Information.

Calculating Percents

Counting FTE Teachers

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. Counts are FTE (full time equivalency) as of the 3rd Friday of September.

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 teacher counts. Speech/language pathologists (position code 84) are included in FTE teacher counts.

WINSS statewide FTEs do not include 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. Teachers hired by CESA's, CCDEBs or Cooperative Agreement 66.0301 agency (the hire agency) and working in a school district are counted in FTE's for the school district (the work agency) and in statewide counts. Teachers working in private schools are also not included, and these data are not available from DPI.

Teacher FTEs are disaggregated by subject taught and qualifications and are used in calculating percents as described below.

Teachers with Specific Qualifications as a Percent of Total

The denominator and numerator used in calculating any percent depends on the WINSS user options selected.

WINSS User Options - Teacher Qualifications
Show: Wisconsin License Status • District Experience • Total Experience • Highest Degree • ESEA Qualified
Subject Taught:    English Language Arts • Mathematics • Science • Social Studies • Foreign Languages • The Arts: Art & Design Dance Music Theatre • Elementary - All Subjects • Special Education - Core Subjects • Special Education Summary • Core Subjects Summary • Summary - All Subjects

The denominator in calculating all teacher percents is the number of FTE teachers described by the selected "Subject Taught." "Subject Taught" reflects staff assignments reported as of the 3rd Friday of September. View relationship between teacher assignments, WMAS subjects, and ESEA core indicators (Excel) for information about how assignments are translated into Subject Taught categories.

The numerator is the subset of the denominator that is described by any given category associated with the selected "Show" option.

  • Wisconsin License Status and ESEA Qualified. Wisconsin License Status categories are Full License, Emergency License, and No License for Assignment. ESEA Status categories are ESEA Qualified and Not ESEA Qualified. See WISEdash Glossary for definitions. If assignments were not reported accurately, some teachers may be counted in the Wisconsin License Status category "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."
  • District Experience and Total Experience. Experience categories are Less Than 5 Years and At Least 5 Years. Any experience in education is counted. Experience may or may not be as a teacher. The experience includes time through the reported school year. Years of employment are reported to the nearest half year. If a teacher is employed by an LEA other than the district where the teacher works, then experience is counted in the LEA where employed and reported on WINSS for the district where the teacher works. In some rare cases a teacher may be employed by multiple LEAs (approximately 0.1% of total) in a single school year, however, only the experience reported by a single LEA is counted.
  • Highest Degree. Teachers who attained at least a masters degree are counted in the Masters or Higher category. The degree may or may not be teaching or education-related. The highest degree of higher learning attained by the teacher regardless of qualifications used on the job is counted.

Data Changes Over Time

  • Beginning in 2003-04 Speech/language pathologists (position code 84) count under Special Education Summary and Summary - All Subjects only.
  • Prior to 2011-12 non-teaching time (such as classroom preparation time, i.e., position code 53, assignment code 0001) was not included in counts of teachers on WINSS. In 2011-12 these counts were retroactively changed to include this time. The retroactive change was made to provide more consistent/comparable teacher counts across schools and over time. Counts excluding non-teaching time may be downloaded.
  • Beginning in 2012-13, teachers working in the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired are not included in statewide WINSS counts. With this change, as for other WINSS topics, statewide FTEs are a simple roll up of data for public schools (including charter schools) in school districts and non-district charter schools.

Data Sources

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Teacher Qualifications Data

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Useful Links

About the Data - Home
Educator Licensing
Using Teacher Qualifications Scatterplots on WINSS
Questions to Consider When Using Teacher Data
PI-1202 Fall Staff Reporting Information
Educator Licensing Online
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.
Wisconsin Educator License Lookup - ELO Public Search
Data about Teacher Qualifications on WINSS
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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