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Clarifying Information on the Definition of a School

School: WISEdata/School Directory

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A school is an administrative unit dedicated to and designed to impart skills and knowledge to students. A school is organized to efficiently deliver sequential instruction from one or more teachers. In most cases, but not always, a school is housed in one or more buildings. Also, multiple schools may be in one building. By statute, a home-based private educational program (homeschool) is not a school.

To help clarify the difference between a school and a program, as well as to review the accountability reporting that is required at the school level, please see the following:

A school:

  • has an assigned administrator/principal responsible for all personnel actions,
  • has a unique identification code assigned by the DPI (referred to as a school code),
  • provides or directly supervises the primary PK-12 educational services received by students in one or more PK-12 grade groups,
  • has one or more teachers to provide instruction or care,
  • may be located in one or more buildings; multiple schools may be in one building.

A school is not:

  • a program for students enrolled in another public school or
  • a home-based private educational program.


FAQs, Details, and Points to Note


  1. Accountability Reporting: School Districts and Charter Schools established under s.118.40 (2r), Wis. Stats., are responsible for submitting and updating data about students enrolled in order to meet accountability reporting requirements under state and federal law. Accountability reporting goes with the school and district that provide or directly supervise the primary PK-12 educational services received by the students. This is typically the school and district that assigned the students to the program. Accountability reporting is at the school level and includes, but is not limited to:
    • Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS)
    • 3rd Friday enrollment
    • 3rd Friday professional, administrative, and support staff (including the principal/administrator responsible for personnel)
    • the School Performance Report
    • the Course Work Completion Report
    • Special Education
    • Migrant Information
    • Limited English Proficiency
    • Title I
    • National School Lunch Act (Free and Reduced Price Eligible Reporting - data also used for E-rate)
    • WISEid
    • WISEdata
  2. Charter Schools: Charter schools, schools established or created under s.118.40, Wis. Stats., are public schools assigned a unique identification code by DPI and are included in all types of accountability reporting applicable to other public schools.
  3. 3c Charter Schools: If you are the charter authorizer of a charter school serving multiple districts (based on s.118.40(3)(c), Wis. Stats.), the charter school will be listed on the district's schools in the School Directory application. These schools have been coded with a 9000 series school code. However, every district participating in the 3c Charter School will find the school listed under its agency (also known as LEA) code. Also note the following:
    • All student and staff data for that school will need to be submitted under this specialized 3c charter school code. 
    • School-level accountability will be assigned to the chartering authority only.
    • WISEdata collection, WISEdash and other public reporting, and district-level accountability will otherwise remain unchanged with each participating district submitting data for students the district enrolls in the multi-district charter and with the multi-district charter showing in each participating district's list of schools. District-level accountability will continue to be assigned to each participating district and will include students the participating district has enrolled in the multi-district charter school.
  4. Administrative unit: An administrative unit is an organizational subdivision of a school district.
  5. Program: A program is a set (plan) of activities and procedures designed to accomplish a predetermined curricular objective or set of objectives. A program:
    • may be carried out by school staff members or by third parties,
    • serves students who remain enrolled in a school and district,
    • does not have a DPI-assigned school code,
    • may be located within a school or at any other location.
  6. School Names: Due to potential usage of non-confidential student directory data, districts are requested to avoid school names that identify confidential characteristics of students enrolled.


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