The State of Wisconsin continues to find solutions to its teacher shortage, which includes changing the tiers of its licensing structure, broadening some license content areas, and changing certification grade spans under its administrative rules, PI34-Wisconsin Quality Educator Initiative, effective August 2018. These changes were recommended by then State Superintendent Tony Evers’ Leadership Group on School Staffing Issues, comprised mostly of representatives from districts in rural areas. Recommendations, which have moved into rule, were made to alleviate some of the pressure on school districts to recruit and retain teachers by expanding the grade bans at either end of the elementary licensing level and broadening the content area grade bans by adding 4th grade to individuals teaching in a specific subject: English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
People with or pursuing licensure in elementary education will now be licensed to teach from K4 through 9th grade, allowing elementary school teachers to not only teach grades earlier than kindergarten but also through 9th grade subject areas: English, Math, Social Studies, and Science. Prior to this change, elementary license holders taught K through 8th grade. Additionally, license holders in the specific subject areas of English, Math, Science and Social Studies will now be licensed to teach starting at the 4th grade.
The implications for these changes are extensive:
- Teachers in the State of Wisconsin are no longer required to professionally develop or earn a master’s degree to retain their licenses. Lifetime teaching licenses will be earned by working 6 consecutive semesters in their field.
- Professional development requirements will be oversighted by individual school districts (and not the state), which may (or may not) require any professional development or allow for content specific development or teacher choice specific to a classroom’s context.
- Enrollments in graduate schools of education are declining in Wisconsin and may affect their viability.
- Formerly approved college/university-based educator education programs must now re-apply to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for approval to provide a licensed major or minor, despite educating educators for years with degrees leading to licensure.
- College/university-based teacher education programs will need to redesign the following majors and minors to align with the new grade bands and broadened content areas: Elementary and Middle School K-9 License, English and Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, PreK through grade 12 Music, K through grade 12 Cross-Categorical Special Education.
- Teachers licensing at the elementary level will have undue pressure placed upon them (and their teacher education programs) to provide expertise across an unusually large band of knowledge.
- Entities, other than college/university-based education programs, may now certify teachers for licensure. Entities include school districts, Wisconsin Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs), and private companies.
Donna L. Pasternak
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Cooperative Educational Service Agency #1. “CESAs in Wisconsin.” Accessed 22 Jan 2019. www.cesa1.k12.wi.us/about/cesas_in_wisconsin.cfm
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “Addressing Wisconsin’s Educator Workforce Shortages. Accessed 22 Jan 2019. dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/programs/addressing-wi-educator-workforce-shortages
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “Approved Educator Preparation Programs.” Accessed 22 Jan 2019. dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/epp/approved-programs
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “PI-34 – Wisconsin Quality Educator Initiative. Accessed 22 Jan 2019. dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/programs/wisconsin-quality-educator-initiative
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “State Superintendent’s Working Group on School Staffing Issues. Final Report.” Jun 2016/July 2016. Accessed 22 Jan 2019. dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/tepdl/pdf/FINALReport-StateSuperintendentsWorkingGrouponSchoolStaffingIssues.pdf
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “Tiered Licensing Structure.” Nov 12, 2018. Accessed 22 Jan 2019. dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/tiered-licensing-structure