You are here

WISEdash Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

last updated 9/14/18

Click on a main topic to search for your question:

About WISEdash

  1. What's in WISEdash?
    • Every year, all Wisconsin school districts collect information about their students, staff, and courses. These datasets are submitted to the Department of Public Instruction where they're stored in a data warehouse. WISEdash gives you an interactive way to select and filter Wisconsin school data from the 2005-06 school year forward. Data are published by the Department of Public Instruction and are redacted to protect student privacy. Additional historical datasets from 1998 forward can be downloaded as well. Links to other education datasets and key reports are available in WISEdash.
  2. Who should use the WISEdash public portal?
    • The WISEdash public portal is the front door for parents and community members to discover all types of data about Wisconsin public schools and districts. Educators should send parents to WISEdash for public data reports. Educators and school staff should use WISEdash for Districts for student-level analysis and log in at Secure Home.
    • If you are a district, please see the District Communications Packet for more information.
  3. Why is WISEdash important?
    • Education data is a primary tool to see how our students, schools, and policies are working. Over time, the data show the results of changes we make in schools, letting us track progress and make adjustments. As stated in Agenda 2017, the goal for Wisconsin is to help ensure every child graduates from high school prepared for both college and career pathways. WISEdash is a key part of Agenda 2017's assessment and data systems emphasis on giving parents and the public more timely, quality data to use for informed decision-making.
  4. Can I use WISEdash to meet District Report Card Requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)?
    • Yes. We believe that one way districts can meet the ESEA Report Card dissemination requirements is to include the WISEdash URL on annual School Performance Reports published under state law with a description of the additional district and school data parents and the general public can find on this website. The following is a sample of the type of statement that could be used on these local documents:
    • These data and more detailed district and school information about test results, graduation, attendance, other academic indicators, and much more can be found on the DPI WISEdash website. To view WISEdash data for [ADD DISTRICT NAME HERE], visit [INSERT THE URL FOR WISEdash OR THE URL FOR A DISTRICT WEBPAGE CONTAINING WISEdash LINK TO DATA]. If you do not have home Web access, visit [ADD NAME OF PUBLIC LIBRARY] or [ADD NAME OF SCHOOL WHERE COMPUTER MIGHT BE SET UP FOR THIS PURPOSE WITH HOURS OF ACCESS]. For further information or assistance, [NAME OF DISTRICT REPORT CARD CONTACT PERSON].
    • Districts are also encouraged to publish a district webpage containing WISEdash links to required district and school ESEA Report Card data. Download optional WISEdash logos. Publishing the data on paper does not appear to be required.

Back to Top

Dashboard Utilities: Exporting, Downloading, Printing, and Emailing

  1. What is the difference in WISEdash between exporting a graph's data and using WISEdash data download files?
    • GRAPH DOWNLOADS: The graph's EXPORT button (blue arrow icon) on the green or blue toolbar to download data for that graph in an Excel, PDF, or CSV format. It only includes data for that specific graph and all the filters and groups you have set. It does not include statewide data.
    • DOWNLOAD FILES: download buttonThis button takes you to the webpage for statewide downloads by topic. It is NOT specific to any one graph and its filters.
  2. How can I get a statewide download file of all data?
    • The Data Files button download button located under the grey filter pane (or go here: The statewide download files are published in a compressed (.zip) file which contains the raw data in a comma-separated values (CSV) structure. These types of files are typically used for research and power user analysis.
  3. How do I download a graph and the corresponding data table to my computer?
    • The graph's EXPORT button (blue arrow icon) on the green or blue toolbar to download data for a that graph in an Excel, PDF, or CSV format. It only includes data for that specific graph and all the filters and groups you have set. It does not include statewide data.
  4. How I can print out a graph with the data table and filter settings?
    • For best printing quality, click the the print icon print button from the graph toolbar. To print the whole dashboard PAGE, click the print icon print button above the grey filter pane on the right side of your screen. Browser printing will not give good results at this time.
    • ALTERNATE PRINTING METHOD: You can click the EXPORT button and select PDF, Excel, or CSV.
  5. I want to email a graph to someone, or cite this data in a bibliography. How do I find the correct URL?
    • WISEdash can generate a permanent link to a graph or whole dashboard with the filters and groups applied. The URL will appear at the bottom of an Excel or PDF export. The web link can also be generated in the following ways:
    • GRAPH: To get a link to a single graph, use the Web Link icon located on the graph's green or blue toolbar. The web link keeps the filters and groups you have selected.
    • DASHBOARD PAGE WITH ALL GRAPHS: To get a link to the entire dashboard page, click the Web Link icon web linkon the page toolbar above the grey filter pane. This feature maintains your filter and group selections on individual graphs as well.

Back to Top

Comparing Data Using WISEdash

  1. What is the difference between the three different types of comparison dashboards (Side-by-Side, Multiple Districts on 1 Chart, Multiple Schools on 1 Chart) and how would I use them?
    • The side-by-side comparison graphs offer pairs of charts that can be set to show different districts, schools, or statewide. Here a district can be compared to another district or school, a school to its district, or to statewide values. Multiple Districts (or Schools) on 1 Chart provide a way to closely examine statistical differences between organizations of the same type together on the same chart.
  2. Where is the athletic conference comparison in WISEdash that was available in WINSS?
    • This comparison is not available in WISEdash at this time. This type of comparison will be evaluated for a future enhancement. The Side-by-Side comparison dashboards will allow you to compare one district to another that may be in different athletic conferences. A list of conferences and the districts included in each one can be found on the Statewide Data Files page.  Select Agency from the Download Type dropdown.
  3. I want to compare two years of data for my district on the same topic.
    • In addition to using the Trends dashboard for each topic to look at data across years you can try the following:
    1. Select your filters to create the first graph for Year 1.
    2. Click the TITLE of the graph. Graph pops open into a new smaller window.
    3. Go back to the graph and select Year 2.
    4. Click the TITLE of the graph again. Second graph window pops open.
    5. Grab the window title bars with your mouse and move them to compare. Or on your PC taskbar at the bottom of your screen right-click an open space on your screen then select TILE WINDOWS.

Back to Top

WISEdash Graphs and Dashboards

  1. I see a bar on a participation rate chart that extends above the top line, more than 100%. How is this possible?
    • The numerator of participation rates is a count of students tested, divided into subgroups (Group by). The denominator is typically the enrollment on the 3rd Friday of September, also divided into subgroups. Due to reporting timeframe differences in these two data collections, students counted in the numerator may not be included in the denominator. This can cause the number of students tested in a certain subgroup to be larger than the number of students in that subgroup that were enrolled on the 3rd Friday in September. The result is a participation rate greater than 100% for that subgroup.
  2. I don't see any labels on the graphs. How can I tell what the exact number is that I am looking at when I am looking at the graph?
    • WISEdash has a built in feature to display the data when a user hovers over the bars or lines in the graph. The length of time the data is displayed in the hover depends on which browser is being used. The hover disappears in Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers after a few seconds. Firefox has an unlimited hover.
  3. How can I select multiple districts or schools from the drop-down lists?
    • Some controls let you select multiple districts, grade groups, schools, or grade levels. To select, hold down your CTRL key (Windows) or CMD key (Mac) and then click the items with your mouse. To UNSELECT an item, hold CTRL or CMD and then click the item again.
    • To clear all your selections and start over, click the RESET FILTERS button on the Dashboard Help toolbar.
  4. The graph seems too small to me. How can I zoom in?
    • On the graph toolbar, select the zoom button  to zoom into a single graph window and enlarge the text. To get back to the default dashboard view, use the browser's back button.
    • Overall, the font size of the entire screen can be increased by holding down the CTRL key and then pressing the + key. Hold CTRL and press the minus - key to decrease the size. Hold CTRL and press the zero 0 key to restore your screen to its default font size.
  5. Can I minimize the area on the dashboard where all of the filters are located?
    • Select the "minimize/restore filter window" button (looks like a dash or underscore character) in the dashboard page tools above the grey filter pane. Click it again to restore the filters pane.
  6. I don't see the data tables anywhere in WISEdash. Where can I find the data tables?
    • Data tables for each graph are viewed by selecting the zoom button or clicking on the title of the graph. To get back to the default view use the browser's back button.
  7. What does the "# Students in Group" column of data represent in the data table?
    • The # Students in Group column represents the total number of students in the group that is being subdivided. For example, it can be the number of White students that is subdivided by performance levels. Or it can be the total number of students that is subdivided by race/ethnicity.
  8. What is the difference between a Filter and a Group By?
    • A filter restricts ALL the data on a graph to only show one (or multiple) values. For example: Setting the Gender filter to Male shows results for only Male students. Female students are not shown in the graph.
    • The Group By control DIVIDES the graph's data into smaller groups so they can be compared to each other based on the Group By selection. All of the subgroups are then shown on the graph for comparison and analysis. For example: Setting the Group By to Gender shows both Male and Female students so the two groups can be compared.
    • When viewing or printing the data tables both your filters and groups will be listed in the table and in the page heading.
  9. Where can I see or select Grade Levels ?
    • Grade Level options will change based on the topic and dashboard type you are using. Note that Grade level is not available for ACT, High School Completion and Postsecondary Enrollment dashboards.
    • GROUP BY GRADE LEVEL: specify Grade Level in the Group by selector; each grade level is shown as a separate bar or point on a chart.
    • SELECT A SPECIFIC GRADE: select one specific grade in the Grade Level filter, also referred to as Grade Level when Tested or Tested at Grade; the data results are restricted to the specified grade level.
  10. Why might graphs disappear when I select certain user options?
    • Some topics include several filtering options where a certain combination that is selected may not apply in all cases. Select a different combination of filters for graphs to reappear.
  11. Why is data available by Grade Group?
    • District and state data can be reported by grade group when school level data are available for the topic. This is because, for many topics, data vary significantly across grade groups. Identifying strengths and needs and possible explanations are critical steps in the school improvement process. Summary data combining data across grade groups are useful and are available, but summary data tend to mask strengths and needs of a specific grade group.
    • Data about school types (elementary, middle, junior high, and high schools) are collected according to definitions provided in s. 115.01(2), Wis. Stats.. An "elementary/secondary combined" school (also known as "El/Sec") is a school that generally offers instruction at elementary grade levels through grade 12 due, in most cases, to the size of the district or other need for nontraditional structure. Fewer schools are included in the "El/Sec" school type than any other type, and schools included tend to change from year to year, so data about Elementary/Secondary schools are subject to more year to year variation.

Back to Top

WISEdash Data

  1. Why do the numbers I see when I hover on each area of a stacked bar chart not add up to the total number displayed in the stacked bar?
    • Please view the data table (by clicking on graph title or zoom) for the complete story. Some populations are so small they may not be apparent in the graph. In addition, the graph does not show redacted rows/subsets which help to make up the complete population.
  2. How can I see the FRPL (free and reduced priced lunch) of a school or district? Is that the same thing as the Economic Status group by?
    • An "economically disadvantaged" student is a student who is a member of a household that meets the income eligibility guidelines for free or reduced-price meals (less than or equal to 185% of Federal Poverty Guidelines) under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). School districts are permitted to use their best local source of information about the economic status of individual students consistent with the DPI definition.
  3. What agencies are included in the statewide counts in the WISEdash Public Portal?
    • Statewide includes:
      • - all public schools (including charter schools) in school districts
      • - all non-district charter schools
    • This is consistent with the statewide reporting covered by SDPR now and WINSS in the past.
    • All public schools required by law to submit School Performance Report data under s. 115.38, Wis Stats are covered by WISEdash reports. Schools operated by districts (under ch. 119 or ch.120, Wis. Stats) and non-district charter schools (under s. 118.40(2r) , Wis. Stats.) are included if they are open on the fall count date for the school year.
    • WISEdash does not include schools operated by the State Department of Corrections or the State Department of Health and Family Services. Although DPI collects a limited range of data from these agencies, these agencies are not required to be included in the public reporting.
  4. How often will WISEdash information be updated?
    • Assessment data are updated annually in the Fall and data from WISEdata (Enrollment, Attendance, Graduation, Dropout) etc. are updated annually in the Spring.
  5. The graph only displays 5 years of data. How do I see data from prior years?
    • The past 5 years was specifically selected to be displayed on Trends and Compare dashboards. Dashboards with a School Year filter can display any of the years of data that are available in WISEdash for that topic.
    • Statewide historical data files are also available for each school year. Click on the "GET FILES" Dashboard Help button, located under the gray filter pane (or here:
  6. Where does the data in WISEdash come from?
    • School district staff enter student information into their local student information system (SIS). The district sends their data from their SIS through WISEdata to DPI as required for state and federal reporting. WISEdash is considered a state report available to the public.
    • District data is checked, stored, and organized in the Department of Public Instruction's data warehouse. In addition, the Department of Public Instruction receives other data files such as ACT, AP, and Forward data. WISEdash summarizes and displays data from the data warehouse in charts and graphs.
  7. What happens if data collection errors are not discovered by districts until after final publication of the Certified Data in WISEdash?
    • Corrections submitted by school districts after the final publication of data are posted on the DPI website.
  8. When will private school data be added to WISEdash?
    • Currently there are no plans to add private school data to WISEdash.
  9. Why are data for some student groups not reported?
    • Certain data are not reported to protect student privacy. Care is taken to avoid disclosure of confidential information about small groups of students, either directly or indirectly. Masking of data to protect privacy is termed redaction. Redacted data may appear as a * symbol in the data cell or the graph or table may not be displayed. In addition, data about larger groups are sometimes not reported to avoid possible indirect disclosure of confidential information about the smaller group. Indirect disclosure occurs when data are reported both for all students in a group and for a large subset of this group, leaving only a small subset not reported.
    • The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction must ensure student confidentiality in any public release of data. This includes release of data to outside individuals or organizations (including but not limited to graduate students and research groups) not working for the Department regardless of assurances provided. State law requires that the department keep confidential all student records provided to the department by school districts.
    • For more information, see the WISEdash redaction webpage.
  10. How do I see data about an individual student?
    • No student level data is available in the WISEdash public version. Privacy and confidentiality prevent any student's personal information from being reported. Please contact your school district for data about individual students.
  11. How can I find data about charter schools?
    • Wisconsin charter schools are public schools created through a businesslike contract or "charter" between the operators and the sponsoring district or other non-district chartering authority. Charter school data are included in WISEdash because these schools are subject to almost all of the same data reporting requirements as other public schools. Select the desired district and the charter school will be available in the School filter.
  12. I see an Unknown category in the data. What does this mean?
    • The category UNKNOWN indicates that the particular attribute of a student (grade, gender, disability, etc.) was not available to be matched with a particular data point. Over the year, some Unknown categories are cleared by data that arrives later and is matched. On some charts, Unknown students are valid results for students who were not definitively identified. These generally occur in data from outside data sources that provide limited student identifiers which are used in matching algorithms to link the student data.
  13. I see an * asterisk in the legend and data table. What does it mean?
    • WISEdash displays an asterisk * in a dashboard's data table instead of a number when it's required to mask data with small groups of students. This masking is called redaction and is required by federal law to protect student confidential information. The asterisk * is different than "--" in a downloadable CSV file.
  14. I see -- dashes in the data tables and download files. What do they mean?
    • WISEdash displays two dashes -- in a downloadable CSV flat file that indicates there were 0 students as a denominator in the category of data, resulting in a numerator divided by 0, giving an invalid number.
  15. I see HS completion rate data for elementary schools?  How is this possible?
    • Once a student enters 9th grade, he or she is permanently assigned to a graduation cohort year.  That graduation cohort year is the customary graduation year for students entering 9th grade four years earlier.  For example, if a student entered grade 9 in fall of 2010, then the student's graduation cohort year is 2014.  Rarely, a student who was placed in 9th grade later moves to another school, possibly an elementary school or a middle school, and is placed in a lower grade level. This movement has no impact on the student’s graduation cohort year.  When a student’s graduation cohort year arrives, the student is included in HS completion rate calculations for the school and district where the student was most recently enrolled even if that most recent school was an elementary or middle school.
  16. WSAS information in WISEdash Public does not match the WISEdash For Districts secure data portal. Why is this?
    • The difference between the WSAS test takers in WISEdash for Districts and the Public Portal has to do with the FAY setting.   FAY is a term used to describe students who have been enrolled in the same school or district for at least one complete school year. For example, students in grade 4 who have been enrolled for a FAY are normally students who were enrolled in the same school or district during grade 3. FAY has an effect on some results. In WISEdash Public version, statewide results count a student regardless of length of time in school or district. Results that are filtered for district will count students enrolled in their DISTRICT for at least a full academic year (FAY). If you filter to a school level, the results will count only students enrolled in their SCHOOL for at least a full academic year (FAY). When the lowest grade in the school is the tested grade, the district FAY status is used as a proxy for school FAY.   The Public Portal data has the “FAY” indicator applied automatically. If you apply the “FAY” filter to the WISEdash For Districts data, the data will match.   A complete explanation of WSAS data in WISEdash can be found on the “About the Data – WSAS” page (
  17. I don’t see my school’s WSAS information. Why is it blank?
    • That school may be new. When a school is new, none of the students have been in the school for a full academic year (FAY), and thus no results are reported. See the previous FAQ entry above for more information about FAY. A complete explanation of WSAS data in WISEdash can be found on the “About the Data – WSAS” page (

Back to Top

Additional Help Topics

  1. How do I find out what an acronym or term means?
    • Consult the Glossary. Also click the GLOSSARY button on any WISEdash page.
  2. I need help with an issue that isn't covered in this FAQ. What should I do?

Back to Top