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Leading Forward: WI Education Workforce Initiative

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Status of the Profession

Wisconsin is more successful than our surrounding states in attracting people into the profession as demonstrated by the number of students enrolled in preparation programs. The state is also preparing and licensing more teachers than are retiring. While the educator workforce would appear stable from these numbers, it is not.

Wisconsin loses educators at two key junctures, when students complete their programs and during the first few years in the profession. The second major loss occurs in the first few years of employment. Only 60.6 percent of first-year teachers are still employed in the state after six years. As a result of these major losses the state is left grappling with how to get more people into the teaching profession to replace the ones the state is losing.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is addressing these challenges, looking at:

What are the reasons for staffing challenges in Wisconsin?

How can we work to strengthen and support educators throughout their careers?

Our focus:

  • Analyze data to determine areas of need and focus
  • Collaborate with partners to establish and guide strategies for positive impact throughout the work of attracting, preparing, licensing, recruiting, and ongoing development for retention of educators.
  • Monitor impact of strategies

What Data and Research Tell Us

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) analyzes data from multiple sources to determine needs and impact. Sources include Wisconsin educator preparation program enrollment and completion, testing rates, responses to a statewide hiring survey, as well as educator retention, salary, demographics, and retirement information.

Important takeaways from the most recent analysis:

  • Public schools are challenged with insufficient applicant pools for filling vacancies. The most common strategies for addressing this have been the employment of substitutes, teachers on a Tier I permit or license, and teachers below preferred standards.
  • Median total compensation continues to trend downward. There has been a 19 percent drop since 2010 when numbers are held constant in 2022 dollars.
  • While there were slight improvements, 79 percent of program completers went on to be licensed in Wisconsin and only 68 percent were ultimately employed in a Wisconsin public school. The result of this loss is that out of a possible 5,061 new public school teachers, the state only added 3,436 educators.
  • Wisconsin’s teacher workforce continues to look very different than the student population. 71 percent is white and female, with no significant changes in the demographic makeup of the teaching workforce in Wisconsin.
  • The license subject areas with highest shortages have not varied over the past 3 years. The highest shortage subject area is cross-categorical special education.
  • The highest number of educator preparation program completers by subject area is in special education.
  • From 2020 to 2022 rural districts had the smallest decrease in their retention rate while city districts had the largest decrease.
Review details in the latest report (published April 2024):

Focus on All Stages of Educator Development

Data analysis calls for a comprehensive approach across each point of the development of future and current educators. The ability of schools to recruit and retain quality educators has a strong connection to student achievement.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is focused on strategies in the following areas:

  • Grow a new generation & support career changers ( Attract)
  • Strengthen preparation (Prepare)
  • Advance licensing options (License)
  • Support growth of the workforce across the state and in high-need areas (Recruit)
  • Build effectiveness (Develop)
  • Retain the workforce (Retain)

Questions? Review our Contacts page for the channels with which to direct your inquiry.

References, Research, Resources, and Reports

Check out sources that drive focus areas and strategies on the Resources and Impact page.