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About WINSS Historical Data Files

Overview | Getting Started | File Layout | Scope | Privacy | Tips | Useful Links | Data Errata | Contact Us


Until 2013, the Wisconsin Information Network for Successful Schools (WINSS) was an important data resource used by education stakeholders to help all students meet and exceed expectations. A wide variety of data about academic performance, attendance and behavior, staff and other school resources, and student demographics were provided through WINSS Data Analysis tools.

In 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) unveiled the successor to WINSS, the Wisconsin Information System for Education Data Dashboard (WISEdash). Between 2013 and 2015, WINSS data for more recent years gradually migrated to WISEdash and another DPI data tool called the School District Performance Report (SDPR). As of September 2015, the WINSS Data Analysis tool was no longer available.

Data previously available on WINSS for earlier school years not covered by WISEdash and SDPR will continue to be accessible in WINSS Historical Data Files. See "Where to Find Data for Specific Years". WINSS data files for these early school years are contained in zipped files named "" Each data file includes all data previously shown in WINSS graphs and tables for that year and additional related data (e.g. counts and codes) that might be useful for analysis purposes.

Getting Started

To directly access a list of available WINSS files, go to WINSS Historical Data Files, and skip to step 3. To access WINSS Historical Data Files from WISEdash Public Portal follow the steps below.

Step 1. Click on any of the blue download "Data Files" icons in WISEdash or any other WISEdash link containing the words "download data files". This takes you to the WISEdash Data Files page.

Step 2. On the upper left of the WISEdash Data Files page you will see either a "School Year" or "Download Type" dropdown. From the "School Year" dropdown menu, select the "School Year" of interest. From the "Download Type" dropdown, select "WINSS Historical Data Files". A table will appear below the dropdown menus containing a list of files available based on your selection. If data previously available on WINSS for any topic/year combination are not available through WISEdash and SDPR, then a WINSS file "" will be provided in the list for that school year ####-##. The earliest and most recent years of WINSS data files varies by topic and range from 1993-94 to 2011-12. For more information, see "Where to Find Data for Specific Years".

Step 3. Click on the name of zip file of interest to view available data files. For example, if you click on the zipped file named "" you will see a screen that lists all the WINSS data files available for the 2004-05 school year.

Step 4. Open and view the individual data files(s) in spreadsheet, data base, or other software. You can also "Save" the files(s).

See the "About the Data" pages for data details by topic. See interpretative guides, included in zipped files, for data details about the WRCT (Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test). Check the WISEdash Glossary for definitions (includes terms used in WINSS files).

Please note:

  • "All Topics" Files. "" includes data files for former WINSS topics. ####-## is the school year of the WINSS data in the file. ####-## may be any school year earlier than school years included in WISEdash and/or SDPR for the same topic.
  • Big Files. These WINSS files are large and may be slow to download. An effort was made to minimize the number of downloads required to obtain all data for any given topic. You should expect thousands if not hundreds of thousands of rows in each WINSS data file. Some files have more than 50 columns. Do not refresh your browser while waiting for the download.
  • Over 400 Districts and Over 2000 Schools. Expect rows for every district and, if school level data are reported, every public school in the state. Records for nondistrict charter schools are included beginning with 1999-00. Records for multi-district charter schools are included beginning in 2001-02. For more information, see Scope section below.
  • School Types. District data are disaggregated in separate rows by school type (elementary, middle/junior high, etc.) when school data are available for this purpose. Data are disaggregated by school type because data often vary substantially by school type. Users interested in district summary data for all schools combined (regardless of school type) should focus on rows with "summary" in the school_type column of the data file. District data by grade by school type combinations are not included due to the inconsistent relationship between grade and school type and potential privacy issues. When district data are disaggregated by grade, only the school type "summary" is available in district rows of the data files.
  • Race/Ethnicity. In 2010-11, modifications were made in the collection and reporting of race/ethnicity data. Two new categories were added increasing the number of categories reported from 5 to 7. Although key language used in defining the five continuing categories was unchanged, some modifications were made which should be considered when comparing 2010-11 data by race/ethnicity with data for earlier years.
  • *, NA, --. Symbols and acronyms are sometimes used to indicate that data are suppressed to protect privacy (*), data are not applicable or were not collected from specific schools for specific years (NA or N/A), or a rate or percent cannot be calculated because the denominator is 0 (--).

File Layout

Unzipped versions of WINSS data files for all topics are in CSV format except for WRCT files. WRCT (Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test) files are in Excel format. Reading from left to right, all CSV and Excel files regardless of topic start with education agency data followed by (if relevant) student group data then topic data. In general, WINSS files about the same topic have the same layout across years so they can be combined using spreadsheet software by copying and pasting rows/records.

Each row/record of each WINSS CSV file includes fields or columns of data as described below:

  • Education Agency. All files have a fixed set of education agency information: year, agency_key, agency_type, CESA, county, (athletic) conference_code, district_number, school_number, school_type, charter, district_name, and school_name. Year is the school year of the data which is represented by the 4-digit calendar year of the school year end date. Agency_key, district_number, and school_number are assigned by DPI and are available in WINSS files to facilitate joining records across files. Agency_key is the EDSTIX agency key and is the same across WINSS topics for the same year / agency combination. CESA, county, and athletic conference codes facilitate aggregation of WINSS data by WINSS users interested in data for a specific CESA, county, or athletic conference. The athletic conference is the one associated with WINSS data for the most recent school year available at the time the historical files were created. In most files you will see the following agency_types: 03 = Districts, 04 = Public schools within district (includes charter schools other than 4C and 49), 4C = multi-district charter school (s. 118.40(3)(c), Wis. Stats., not chartering authority), and 49 = Nondistrict charter schools (s. 118.40(2r), Wis. Stats). These agency_types are subject to a wide range of state- and federally-mandated data collection requirements.
  • Student Group. Student group information varies by topic because its relevance and availability varies by topic. Most topics include data about grade level placement, race_ethnicity, gender, economic_status, disability_status, and english_proficiency_status. Some topics also include data by primary_disability, migrant_status, or native/primary language group. Grade_label is the grade range of the relevant data collection or a specific grade level within that range. Students in the Pre-K or Pre-Kindergarten group include all students below 5-year-old kindergarten. All data about students included in each row are limited to students enrolled in the grade level or grade range identified by the grade_label regardless of school_type or agency_type.
  • Topic. Topic information varies by WINSS topic. For example, "What percent of students attend school each day?" includes total_fall_enrollment_pk-12, actual_days_of_attendance, possible_days_of_attendance, and attendance_rate. "What percent of students did not advance to the next grade level? " includes total_fall_enrollment_k-12, completed_school_term, number_of_retentions, and retention_rate. All the data included in WINSS graphs and on-screen tables are available in these data files. In addition, counts used in calculation of averages, rates, or percents will be included in these files if left off WINSS graphs/on-screen tables due to lack of space (not for privacy reasons).


The layout of WRCT Excel files is similar to the CSV file layout except a more limited range of education agency data are provided in the WRCT files.


These WINSS files include data for schools operated by districts (under ch. 119 or ch.120, Wis. Stats) and, beginning in 1999-00, nondistrict charter schools (under s. 118.40(2r) , Wis. Stats.).

In general, all students enrolled in public schools are included in WINSS student data. Students need not occupy a seat in a school building to be included in WINSS data about students. Districts submit data for all students who receive their primary PK-12 educational services either (1) directly from district employees or (2) from third parties under the direct supervision of districts. Third parties might include technical colleges, community-based organizations, nonprofit-nonsectarian agencies, universities, school to work program providers, cooperative educational service agencies, out-of-state school districts, private schools, residential care centers, Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Wisconsin School for the Deaf, County Children with Disabilities Education Board schools, etc. If a district is accountable for a student's educational outcomes, then the student is included in the district's data. Criteria that apply to counting of students in school districts also apply to nondistrict charter schools (under s. 118.40(2r) , Wis. Stats.).

WINSS files do not include data about schools operated by State Department of Corrections or State Department of Health Services. Also data for students enrolled in private schools are not included. In accordance with current laws, these schools submit a more limited range of data to the WI Department of Public Instruction. Because WINSS combines data across subtopics, topics and collections, data for these schools are not included in WINSS files.

Protecting Privacy

These are public files so some topic data are suppressed to protect student privacy. Rules applied to WINSS data are different from those applied to WISEdash data, but both sets of rules are designed to accomplish the same purpose and comply with the same laws. For more informaton, see WISEdash Support - About data redaction and student privacy.


  • Some spreadsheet software will remove leading zeroes used in joining files. If you want to maintain leading zeros in the agency_key, district_number, school_number, and/or agency_type fields, then refer to software instructions.
  • To sort rows, open the file using spreadsheet software. If using Excel, select Data -> Sort to choose sorting options.
  • Does the file contain more rows/records than you want? You can use Excel to highlight the row containing fieldnames then select Data->Filter-> to view or copy rows of interest.
    • District-level summaries (all school data combined). Select school_type=summary and school_name=blank.
    • School-level summaries. Select school_name not equal blank.
    • Charter schools only. Select school_name not equal blank and charter=Y.
    • Any specific CESA, county, or athletic conference. Choose the variable of interest from the field names at the top of the file and use filter to select CESA, county, or athletic conference.

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