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About the Data - Teacher Qualifications

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Data about qualifications of teachers are available on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Website. State, district, and school-level data about Wisconsin license, experience, highest degree, and ESEA qualified status are included. This information can be used to compare the qualifications of teachers in your district/school to other districts/schools and to examine possible associations between teacher qualifications and other variables (e.g. student outcomes, school poverty level, district or school size, district spending, school climate, etc).

Where to Find Data about Teacher Qualifications
School Years  WISEdash   School District 
 Performance Report 
 WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 
Beginning with 2007-08 -- X --
2002-03 through 2006-07 -- -- X

WINSS Data Analysis was DPI's primary public data portal for information about teacher qualifications until summer 2015 when more recent years of WINSS teacher data were migrated to the School District Performance Report (SDPR).

Data about teacher qualifications are reported annually for all public schools and districts statewide. Below you will find detailed background information, definitions, and related links to facilitate use and appropriate interpretation of these data on the DPI Website.


  • In 2014-15, DPI implemented a new staff reporting system. As with any new data system implementation, data reported through the system for both the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 carry a data cautionary advisory. DPI is working to improve data quality and going forward data users can expect to see continual improvement in data quality. The 2016-2017 collection marks good progress towards improved data quality as enhancements to data validations and data review methods have been implemented into the WISEStaff data collection. For district submitted corrections to this information please see the Data Errata after DPI Publication Page.
  • 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.
  • Three or four variables cannot sum up the qualifications of a teacher. What makes a teacher effective is difficult to assess and depends on many factors.
  • SDPR/WINSS data about teacher qualifications are based on an audit of data submitted by Wisconsin School Districts in the (WISEstaff/PI-1202) Fall Staff Collection and data in 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 SDPR data tables and in WINSS files. 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."

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, foreign languages, social studies (i.e. civics and government, economics, history, and geography), art and design, dance, music, and theater 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 Educator License Lookup.

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 Reports (Part I, Section 1.5) for more information about teachers teaching core subjects disaggregated by school poverty status. These reports are updated annually.

Definitions of Key Terms


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

For definitions used in collecting teacher FTE assignment, classes taught, experience, and higher education data, see the WISEstaff Data Collection webpage..

Calculating Percentages


All counts used in calculating percents depend on the specific subject(s) and teacher variable of interest. Users can select from the options below

Calculating Percentages for Staff
Subject Taught:    English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Languages, The Arts: Art & Design Dance Music Theater, Elementary - All Subjects, Special Education - Core Subjects, Special Education Summary, Core Subjects Summary, Summary - All Subjects
Teacher Variable: Wisconsin License Status, District Experience, Total Experience, Highest Degree, ESEA Qualified Status*

* ESEA Qualified Status applies to staff with teaching assignments in ESEA core academic areas only. ESEA core academic areas are federally defined and are not neatly aligned with WI subjects. Consequently, if the subject taught option selected includes all assignments, then counts and percents by ESEA Qualified Status reflect only a subset of assignments described by that subject taught (i.e., only core assignments are counted).

Counting FTE Teachers

Except as indicated below, 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. See WISEstaff FTE Guidance for details about how to calculate FTEs.

Criteria used for the grouping of TEACHERS found in the “Teacher: Experience in Education”, “Teacher: Highest Degree”, and "Teacher: Wisconsin License Status" tables: For these tables, teachers are defined as staff who have been reported having an assignment with a position code of 53 (Teacher) or 84 (Speech/Language Pathologist). Eliminated from this grouping of teachers are subcontracted teaching staff ( subcontracted staff are not required to report experience or highest degree) and teacher staff with and assignment code 53-0970 (Teacher / Intern).

SDPR/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.

FTE Teachers with Specific Qualifications as a Percent of Total

The denominator in calculating FTE teacher percents is the sum of teacher FTEs 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 the teacher qualification category of interest. Each teacher qualification category is associated with one of the teacher variables. Reporting categories for each of these variables are described below.

  • Wisconsin License Status. Categories are Full License, Emergency License, and No License for Assignment. See WISEdash Glossary for definitions. Teachers and their reported assignments are cross referenced with the DPI license database at the end of the school year as part of annual audit processes. 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). FTE teachers are counted as having "No License for Assignment" unless the audit data support reporting as licensed. If audit results are expected but missing for certain assignments (e.g. due to post-audit corrections or additions - rare), then FTEs for these assignments are counted under "Not Available".
  • District Experience and Total 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 in SDPR/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.
  • ESEA Qualified Status. Categories are ESEA Qualified and Not ESEA Qualified. See WISEdash Glossary for definitions. The teachers and their reported assignments are cross referenced with the DPI license database at the end of the school year as part of annual audit processes. FTE teachers are counted as "Not ESEA Qualified" unless the audit data support reporting as "ESEA Qualified." If audit results are expected but missing for certain assignments (e.g. due to post-audit corrections or additions - rare), then FTEs for these assignments are counted under "Not Available".

Counting Core Academic Classes

Core academic classes are counted if taught by a teacher included in FTEs. Note that classes are not equivalent units of instruction so comparing counts of classes may be misleading. Some summaries separately report elementary and secondary data to reduce over-representation of certain classes in totals. Class counts are disaggregated by subject taught and by the ESEA Qualified Status of the teachers teaching the classes. These counts are used in calculating percents as described below.

For more details about how classes are counted see PI-1202 Number of Classes & NCLB Documentation.

Classes Taught by ESEA Qualified Teachers as a Percent of Total Classes

The denominator for all class percents is the sum of core academic classes described by the selected "Subject Taught." The numerator is the subset of those classes that are taught by teachers in the ESEA Qualified Status category of interest: ESEA Qualified or Not ESEA Qualified. If teacher audit results are expected but missing for teachers of some classes (rare), then those classes are counted under the category "Not Available."

ESEA requires that class percents be reported by school poverty quartiles. To meet this requirement, each school year, elementary and secondary schools are ranked based on poverty level, i.e., economically disadvantaged students as a percent of total enrollment. Elementary schools are those identified by the grade group "elementary." Schools in all other grade groups are counted as secondary. Counts of economically disadvantaged students and enrollment are as of the 3rd Friday of September. After ranking, the elementary list and the secondary list are each divided into quartiles. If poverty level cannot be determined for a school, e.g. if 3rd Friday September enrollment is zero, then the school is not ranked and so not counted in the highest or lowest quartile, but records for these schools are otherwise included.

See WISEdash Glossary for definitions of Grade Group, Economically Disadvantaged, and Enrollment.

Data Sources


Teacher data about experience, degrees earned, working district/school, FTEs by assignment, and classes taught are submitted by school districts as part of the annual Fall (September) Staff Collection (WISEstaff/PI-1202). Summaries are based on the district/school where a teacher works.

Data required for teacher licensing are collected from prospective and current teachers on an ongoing basis as part of the DPI teacher licensing process. See also Educator Licensing Online.

Enrollments and counts of economically disadvantaged students (required for school poverty quartiles) are based on ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records. Accountable district/school is used.

Data Changes Over Time

  • Beginning in 2003-04, Speech/language pathologists (position code 84) count only under Special Education Summary and Summary - All Subjects.
  • Beginning in 2007-08, teachers submitted with a "highest degree" code of 08 (Other) are not counted in SDPR as being in the Masters Degree or Higher category. Only codes 05 (Master’s), 06 (Degree beyond Master's but short of a Doctor's), or 07 (Doctor's) count. The 08 code is rarely used (less than 1% of total FTE teachers).
  • Beginning in 2009-10, classes taught by ESEA Qualified teachers were reported by school poverty level.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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 SDPR/WINSS counts. With this change, as for other WISEdash/SDPR/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.
  • In 2013-14 and 2014-15, major changes were made in licensing and staff data collection and processing systems.

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