elementary-education

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Elementary Education program prepares teachers who can foster high academic achievement in all students—particularly students of color, students from minoritized racial, cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities. Teacher education students learn to recognize how their own background and experience shape their thinking and actions, to reflect on their practices, and to develop and adapt practices that serve the needs of their students.

Through their preparation, students gain awareness of how schools reflect both the strengths and inequities of our increasingly multicultural society and become more committed to advancing social justice and equity through their classroom practice and community interactions. They learn to welcome parents, caregivers, and community members into their classrooms as partners in the educational process. They integrate research-based practices in their teaching and, in doing so, acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to grow professionally throughout their teaching careers.

At UW–Madison, students preparing to teach in preschool, elementary, and middle schools engage in substantial supervised fieldwork (especially in diverse schools), community field experiences, self-examination of teaching practice, and development of multicultural classroom activities.

The Elementary Education program currently consists of four complementary program options:

  • The Early Childhood/English as a Second Language option prepares teachers to work at the preschool and primary levels (approximately birth through age 8). Students are also certified in English as a Second Language at the Early Childhood level. Admitted students begin a four-semester professional sequence in the fall after admission.
  • The Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence/English as a Second Language option prepares teachers to work in intermediate and middle school settings (approximately ages 6 through 12–13). Students are also certified in English as a Second Language at the Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence levels. As of fall, 2018, admitted students will begin the four-semester professional sequence in the fall after admission; this is a change from previous years in which the sequence began in the spring semester. Professional sequence courses may be reordered slightly as part of this transition.
  • The Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence/Special Education option prepares teachers to work in intermediate and middle school settings (approximately ages 6 through 12–13). It emphasizes collaboration, with training in both Elementary and Special Education methodologies. This option focuses on inclusion and gaining a strong background in working with students across disability categories including learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, and other high incidence disabilities. Students are certified in both Special Education and Elementary Education at the Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence levels. Admitted students begin a four-semester professional sequence in the fall after admission.
  • The Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence/Content Focused Minor option prepares teachers to work in intermediate and middle school settings (approximately ages 6 through 12–13). Students complete a content area minor that may lead to licensing in that subject. As of fall, 2018, admitted students will begin the four-semester professional sequence in the fall after admission; this is a change from previous years in which the sequence began in the spring semester. Professional sequence courses may be reordered slightly as part of this transition.

Course requirements will vary by option, so students should consult often with an Education advisor. All options lead to a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. Formal definitions of Early Childhood and Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence levels are determined by each school district based on the organizational structure of its schools and the philosophy and needs of the district.

Program Admission Overview

Students are admitted to the program once a year, effective in the fall. Selection is made the previous spring and students begin a four-semester professional sequence in the subsequent fall semester.

Entering the School of Education

New and Current UW–Madison Students

New freshmen and transfer students interested in elementary education are admitted directly to the School of Education with a “pre-professional” classification. This classification indicates that a student is interested in a program offered by the school, but has not applied and been admitted to the professional program. Students interested in elementary education receive the "pre-professional" classification of PRE.

On-campus students wishing to be admitted to the school while working on eligibility requirements and application can apply for admission to the school by completing a Pre-Professional Application. A minimum GPA of 2.5, based on UW–Madison coursework, is required to transfer into the school. This GPA may be modified by the Last 60 Credits rule (detailed below). It is not necessary to be a "pre-professional” student before applying to a professional program.

It is strongly recommended that students interested in a School of Education program meet with an academic advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS), 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Students may call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Prospective TRANSFER STUDENTS

Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the university to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

STUDENTS WITH A PREVIOUS DEGREE

Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person or via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.

Application and Admission

Resources limit the number of students who can be served by UW–Madison teacher education programs; thus, admission to the Elementary Education program is limited and may be competitive. Obtaining or exceeding the minimum criteria for eligibility does not guarantee admission.

The Elementary Education program faculty selects candidates based on a variety of criteria. Each option has its own selection committee and only reviews applications to that option. In particular they seek individuals who can demonstrate academic competence, multicultural and interpersonal competence, and reflective competence.

PROGRAM ADMISSION ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Potential applicants should consult the School of Education's Apply to a Program page for application deadlines and detailed information regarding current eligibility requirements and selection criteria prior to submitting an application.

To be eligible for admission to the professional program, applicants must:

  • determine which of the four program options are of interest. Applicants may apply to a maximum of two options.
  • submit completed program application form(s), transcripts, and all other related application materials by the application deadline specified on the School of Education's Apply to a Program page.
  • successfully complete at least 40 transferable college-level credits by the end of the fall semester before application.
  • earn either
    • a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale on all transferable college-level coursework attempted1OR
    • minimum scores to meet the Basic Skills requirement, see above.

Applicants will be considered who have met either the minimum GPA or minimum basic skills test scores in all areas, but will not be eligible if both GPA and basic skills test scores are below the minimum. Students must take all three sections of the Basic Skills tests (reading, writing, mathematics) to be eligible for consideration.

  • complete RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities by the end of the summer before beginning the program if applying to the MC–EA/Special Education Dual Major option.
  • Note: In previous years, applicants to teacher education programs were required to submit scores from one of the following exams: ACT, SAT, Praxis I/PPST, Praxis Core, or GRE. Under emergency rules announced by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, no applicants need to submit scores for any exam as a component of their application to this program. The exam requirement was officially removed by the School of Education on November 15, 2017.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to programs. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information regarding this rule is available here.

PROGRAM ADMISSION SELECTION CRITERIA

The Elementary Education program admissions procedures are intended to result in an academically qualified student body that is diverse in terms of both academic strengths and life experiences and has a commitment to providing the best possible education to elementary and middle school students. Having students with diverse life experiences, backgrounds and attitudes is critical if faculty are to prepare students to teach in schools that themselves have diverse enrollments. Faculty will accept only those students judged to have the potential to be successful in the academically challenging Elementary Education Program. In making admissions decisions, no factor will outweigh judgment that a particular applicant's credentials, taken as a whole, represent unacceptably high academic risk.

The Admissions Committee will take the following into consideration when making admissions decisions:

Academic Competence

The Mission Statement of the Elementary Education Area points to the role that our graduates have in creating academically rigorous classrooms that lead to high academic achievement in all students. For elementary and middle schools to promote academic achievement, elementary and middle school teachers must have demonstrated high levels of success in core disciplines throughout their university studies. Therefore, program faculty expect that students admitted to the program will have demonstrated high levels of academic preparation.

Multicultural and Interpersonal Competencies

The Elementary Education program's mission is to prepare teachers who are able to promote academic achievement in all elementary-school and middle-school students. This includes those from diverse races, cultures, language backgrounds, family forms, and sexual orientations, as well as those from diverse economic, gender, and ability groups. The program faculty seek prospective teachers who will demonstrate both commitment to this mission and the prospect of contributing to it. The Admissions Committee will therefore examine the materials from each candidate for evidence of such commitment and prospect.

Reflective Competence

To have performed at high academic levels or to have had diverse life experiences is not adequate for admissions purposes unless these are accompanied by evidence that the applicant has been able to reflect on and learn from them. Demonstration of reflective competence is important as it likely contributes to one's interpersonal skills as well as to the qualities such as integrity, social awareness, and cultural sensitiveness that are qualities of a well-rounded human being who will be an excellent elementary or middle school teacher. The ability to reflect on one's life experiences is one factor that will allow the Admissions Committee to look for evidence that our students will be reflective practitioners who evaluate the effects of their assumptions, choices, and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who will actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally.

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required by law to conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety or education of PK–12 pupils. Local school districts also will conduct criminal background checks routinely on teacher education students prior to the start of in-classroom field work. Admitted applicants to any teacher education program who have a positive background check should confer with the Academic Dean’s Office (Room 139 Education, 1000 Bascom Mall) about the potential impact of this on field placements and licensure.

An individual who is deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the academic dean in Education Academic Services.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Program Structure

Students of Elementary Education:

  • Are exposed to a broad range of academic disciplines through liberal studies course work. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Examine schools' relationship to society, the development of children and adolescents, and the processes of learning in their education course work.
  • Study teaching methods and gain experience in schools through supervised field placements during their four-semester professional sequence.
  • Complete elective coursework to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

Practicum experiences provide a school-based setting for students to develop their professional and classroom skills. These experiences generally begin a few weeks after the start of the semester and are approximately nine weeks in length. Students will usually spend three half-days at their assigned schools. Concurrent registration in the methods courses provides students with an opportunity to learn about, and then apply, teaching techniques in a classroom.

The full-semester student teaching assignment is the capstone experience of the professional sequence. Through it students expand upon the activities, responsibilities and expectations encountered during the practicum experiences. Student teachers will function as regular staff members in their assigned schools and also attend a seminar on campus one afternoon each week. Student teachers are required to follow the school day, school calendar, vacation days and policies of the school where they work.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science have unique requirements in this category.

Science

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Options - Select One

Elective Coursework

Complete additional courses as necessary to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements—Required for All Program Options

Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all requirements and also obtain the endorsement of the program faculty to receive certification through UW–Madison. The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license. Requirements below are based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.5 cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average across all professional education courses (excluding practicum and student teaching).
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average in the major.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average in the minor, if required.
  • Minimum 120 credits (degree candidates only).
  • Major residency: Degree candidates must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework (numbered 300–699) in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus. Student teaching and practicum are considered part of the 30 credits.

Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas in the School of Education.

Additional Certification Requirements and Applying for a License

In addition to completing UW–Madison's program requirements, students must also complete Wisconsin statutory requirements and certification requirements established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Many of these requirements are embedded within the program's requirements and require no additional attention. The endorsement of the program coordinator/faculty is also required to receive certification through UW–Madison.

The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license.

Detailed information about certification requirements and applying for a license is available under Certification/Licensure.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. Create and implement developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences that reflect high expectations for every learner, supporting learners to (1) develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and (2) apply understanding in meaningful ways.

2. Select and/or create and sequence individually supportive and challenging learning experiences that reflect knowledge of individual learners, curriculum, pedagogies, and relevance to all learners and their families.

3. Use a variety of teaching strategies, and evidence-based technologies and information resources to engage learners in meaningful learning activities that lead to content knowledge, critical thinking, creativity, innovation, self-evaluation, and self-directed learning. Use evidence to continually evaluate the effectiveness of these practices, and adjust these as needed to improve learner outcomes.

4. Collaborate with others to create supportive, inclusive, linguistically responsive, and safe learning environments that help all learners meet high standards and reach their full potential.

5. Choose, modify, and/or create multiple forms of unbiased formative and summative assessments to measure each learner’s progress toward instructional goals. Use assessment data gathered to respond to each learner’s strengths and needs in relation to short and long-term goals. Reflect on and justify planning decisions and ground one’s justifications in knowledge of learners, development, curriculum, pedagogies, and resources.

6. Use studies completed in science and mathematics, social sciences, the humanities, histories, languages, and the arts to inform and deepen their teaching of content areas and meeting learners’ needs.

Elementary Education Advising

Students not yet admitted to Elementary Education meet with their assigned advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS) and/or the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (OURR), see below. Students are assigned an additional departmental advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651
www.education.wisc.edu/soe/academics/undergraduate-students/academic-advising

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651
www.education.wisc.edu/sdp

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755
http://careercenter.education.wisc.edu/

Need assistance with any of the following? 

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that incorporates individual passions, interests, and values that will help one reach specific career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning a job search and learning where to start and what to do
  • Seeking assistance with developing a résumé, a cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Networking and connecting with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist students in reaching their career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website:

  • Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Investigate Career Options. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying a student’s personal criteria for success, linking specific career options to majors, and identifying steps for career/major selection.  It includes strategies for making the most of a student’s academic and student experience.
  • Confirm major and career decisions.  Gain hands-on experience in the career field of study.  Assess the perceptions of selected career and major options for accuracy.  Develop professional and soft skills.  The Test Drive and Confirm Career Choice section provides strategies for acquiring real-world experience.
  • Preparation is critical for entering one’s next career phase.  Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop promotional materials for employers and/or graduate schools and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them.  Acquire materials that support one’s applications.  The Prepare and Connect section provides offers additional details.
  • Implement helps students plan for the future.  Attend recruiting events.  Apply for graduate school or for job opportunities.  Practice interviewing skills.  Interview.  Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  To schedule an appointment visit, http://bit.ly/CCAppt.

Informational workshops and career-related events are conducted each semester.  The schedule of these events can be found on the center’s website.

The Career Center coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Curriculum and Instruction can be found on the department's website.

Additional Certification Requirements 

Students must complete all requirements and also obtain the endorsement of the program faculty to receive certification through UW–Madison. These requirements include those required by UW–Madison, the Department of Public Instruction, and those mandated by state statutes. While most of these requirements are embedded in course content, some (e.g., the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test) are not related to course enrollment. 

Students pursuing certification should be aware of the following requirements. See the school's website for additional information/requirements.

Certification requirements should be monitored carefully. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) periodically implements regulations that affect all certification programs; teacher certification candidates are responsible for having up-to-date information about certification requirements.

Disclosure Statement and Criminal Background Investigation

Disclosure Statement

Applicants to School of Education programs that involve a practicum, internship, or other field placement must complete a disclosure statement indicating (1) whether they have been admitted to, then withdrawn from, asked to withdraw from, or been dropped from a student teaching, clinical experience, or other intern/practicum program, and (2) if they have ever been placed on probation or disciplined by any college or university for academic dishonesty.

Criminal Background Investigation (CBI)

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required by law to conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety, or education of PK–12 pupils. Local school districts also will conduct criminal background checks routinely on teacher education students prior to the start of in-classroom field work.

Students should be aware that criminal background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. School administrators have the authority to determine the appropriateness of a student placement and may choose not to permit a placement based on a student’s background check results.

An individual who is deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the academic dean in Education Academic Services.

Environmental Education

This licensing requirement is mandatory for all Elementary Education, Secondary Science, Secondary Social Studies, and Agri-Science Education certification students. Students with previous degrees in their subjects must also monitor and complete this requirement for certification and licensure.

Select one Environmental Studies course or from the following list. If appropriate, this course may also be applied toward the liberal studies requirements.

ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  121 Atmospheric Environment and Society2
ATM OCN/​SOIL SCI  132 Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use3
BOTANY 100 Survey of Botany3
BOTANY/​BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  152 Introductory Biology5
BOTANY 240 Plants and Humans3
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  260 Introductory Ecology3
ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  120 Introduction to the Earth System3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  121 Atmospheric Environment and Society2
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  127 Physical Systems of the Environment5
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  139 Living in the Global Environment: An Introduction to People-Environment Geography3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  309 People, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST  361 Wetlands Ecology3
MED HIST/​ENVIR ST/​HIST SCI  513 Environment and Health in Global Perspective3
PHYSICS 115 Energy3
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
SOC/​C&E SOC  140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology3
SOC/​C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3

Student Testing and Assessment

Students in teacher education programs are required to complete a significant performance assessment prior to certification and eventual licensure. Additional tests may be required, although this varies by certification area. Detailed information related to these requirements, along with fee and registration information can be found on the School of Education website under Academic Tests for Prospective Teachers. A brief description of these tests and assessments is provided below.

Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA)

The edTPA is a subject area-specific, performance-based assessment for pre-service teacher candidates, which is centered on student learning. Evidence of candidate teaching proficiency in the areas of planning, engagement and instruction, and assessment is drawn from a subject-specific learning segment, 3–5 lessons from a unit of instruction. Assessment artifacts include video clips of instruction, lesson plans, student work samples, analysis of student learning, and reflective commentaries. These artifacts will be taken together and scored by trained evaluators using the standardized set of edTPA rubrics. After August 31, 2015, initial license candidates (i.e., students completing certification programs) must complete the edTPA as part of their student teaching and after August 31, 2016, initial license candidates will be required to pass the edTPA before they can be recommended for licensure.

Content Test

Students completing professional education programs must demonstrate proficiency in their content area. This is accomplished a number of ways, varying by certification area. For example, Elementary Education students must have a major GPA of 3.0. World Language Education students must have a 3.0 in their major or minor area, meet an ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview requirement, and also pass the ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT). A student may be required to take and pass an approved examination in their content area, usually the appropriate Praxis II: Subject Assessments/Specialty Area Tests through the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test

As of January 31, 2014, individuals seeking an initial Wisconsin license to teach in kindergarten through grade 5 or in special education, an initial Wisconsin license as a reading teacher, or an initial Wisconsin license as a reading specialist, must take and pass the Wisconsin Foundations Reading Foundations Test. Undergraduate programs impacted by this requirement are Elementary Education and Special Education.

This test is for Wisconsin licensing purposes only. Students who choose not to pursue Wisconsin educator licensing need not take and pass this test. This test is in addition to all other required tests and assessments for certification and licensure.

Field Experiences

School-based field experiences are a critical part of students' professional preparation for teaching. Under Wisconsin State regulations, students seeking teaching certification from UW–Madison are required to complete at least one pre-student teaching practicum and at least one full semester of student teaching. Most programs at UW–Madison require students to complete additional field experiences.  

Pre–Student Teaching Practicum

The pre–student teaching practicum gives students firsthand knowledge of the classroom environment and the teacher's role. For many students, the practicum is the initial encounter with the real world of teaching. Practicum students do not assume the degree of classroom responsibility they do during student teaching. Under the supervision of an experienced teacher, practicum students observe classroom activities, assist the teacher with day-to-day classroom management tasks, interact one-to-one with students, and instruct small groups. The cooperating teacher and university supervisor use the practicum to assess the student's readiness for the student teaching experience.

Student Teaching Experience

Student teaching, the culminating field experience, is a full-time, school district semester assignment that places a university student under the guidance of an experienced, qualified cooperating teacher. After an orientation period, the student teacher gradually assumes more responsibility for planning, instruction, and overall classroom management. Student teachers follow the daily schedule of the cooperating teacher and the building policies of the school, and function as regular staff members in arrival and departure times and attendance at school events.

The student teaching experience follows the calendar of the local school district. A fall semester assignment will typically begin the latter part of August and end the latter part of January. A spring semester assignment will begin the latter part of January and end mid-June. Holiday breaks follow the school district calendar. Carrying other formal course work during the student teaching semester is strongly discouraged.

Find detailed policies and regulations regarding student teaching in the document, Teacher Education Field Experience Policies (July, 2017). Students and staff are responsible for knowing and complying with the Field Experience policies. Many professional programs have their own separate handbooks and specific policies; students are also responsible for those policies and procedures.

Withdrawing From/Failing Field Experience Assignments

Withdrawing from a field experience has serious implications for the student’s progress in the program. Students who withdraw or receive an unsatisfactory grade (including a “D”) from a field experience may not repeat such experiences without approval from the program coordinator. Students withdrawing from or receiving an unsatisfactory grade in field experiences in one major or program may not enroll in another major or program without written permission from the program coordinator. Because of the consequences that withdrawal from a confirmed assignment may have on a student's future progress in the teaching certification program, a student who contemplates such action is strongly urged to consult with the program coordinator to fully understand the implications of such action and the options available.

Minority Group Relations and Conflict Resolution

Minority Group Relations

Wisconsin State teacher education regulations require students to complete a section titled Minority Group Relations. The rules identify Minority Group Relations as

  • The history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin.
  • The history, culture and contributions of women and various racial, cultural, language and economic groups in the United States.
  • The philosophical and psychological bases of attitude development and change.
  • The psychological and social implications of discrimination, especially racism and sexism in the American society.
  • Evaluating and assessing the forces of discrimination, especially racism and sexism on faculty, students, curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the school program.
  • Minority group relations through direct involvement with various racial, cultural, language and economic groups in the United States.

UW–Madison teacher education programs address these areas through course work and experiences in each professional education program. Students who successfully complete their professional program will have satisfied each of the areas of Minority Group Relations. For more detailed information about how required courses address Minority Group Relations for each program area, see the School of Education's PI 34 site. Choose Certification Programs, select the program of interest, and click on Rules & Statutes.

Conflict Resolution Requirement

Wisconsin State teacher education regulations require all individuals pursuing teacher certification to have formal training in conflict resolution. This includes

  • Resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff.
  • Assisting pupils in learning methods of resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff, including training in the use of peer mediation to resolve conflicts between pupils.
  • Dealing with crises, including violent, disruptive, potentially violent or potentially disruptive situations that may arise in school or activities supervised by school staff as a result of conflicts between pupils or between pupils and other persons.

All teacher certification programs include conflict resolution training in their required course work. For more detailed  information about how conflict resolution is addressed in each program area, see the School of Education's PI 34 site. Choose Certification Programs, select the program of interest, and click on Rules & Statutes.

Phonics

As of July 1, 1998, the State of Wisconsin requires that all persons seeking initial and renewal licenses to teach reading or language arts in grades Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6 (PK–6) must have successfully completed instruction in teaching reading and language arts using appropriate instructional methods, including phonics. "Phonics" means a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the phonetic value of letters, letter groups and syllables.

The Phonics requirement applies to students completing Elementary Education and Special Education certification programs. UW–Madison students fulfill this requirement through the successful completion of courses that are already required, so no additional course work is needed to meet this statutory requirement.

Cooperatives

This licensing requirement is mandatory for secondary Social Studies (and Agri-Science) Education certification. Students with previous degrees in their subjects must also monitor and complete this requirement for certification and licensure.

Students typically complete the cooperatives requirement after being admitted to the Secondary Social Studies program and should consult with the program coordinator, Professor Alan Lockwood, regarding its completion.

Teacher Standards

UW–Madison teacher education students must meet all state licensing requirements for initial teaching certification in Wisconsin. These requirements, sometimes referred to as administrative rules "PI 34," mandate that individuals demonstrate proficiency on state-approved teaching standards. Each teacher education institution in Wisconsin has adopted a set of teacher education standards that meet state guidelines. These standards must be met by all students completing a licensing program. The current standards of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education can be found on the school's website.

Applying for a Teaching License

The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license. Students intending to complete a teacher certification program should monitor program requirements carefully. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) periodically implements regulations that affect all certification programs; teacher certification candidates are responsible for having up-to-date information about certification requirements.

Licensing Levels

The following licensing options are offered at UW–Madison.

  • The Elementary Education program currently offers two licensing levels: Early Childhood and also Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence
  • The Special Education program certifies students at both the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level and also at the Early Adolescence through Adolescence level. The Special Education/Elementary Education dual major option certifies students only at the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level.
  • Secondary Education programs certify students to teach their subject area at the Early Adolescence through Adolescence level.
  • Students completing Language Education programs will be licensed at the Early Childhood through Adolescence level.
  • Students in special fields such as Art, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Music, and Physical Education will be licensed at the Early Childhood through Adolescence level.

Wisconsin State Licensing

The State of Wisconsin issues an initial teaching license to certified teachers. The current fee is $125. An online license application is available through the Department of Public Instruction. A Criminal Background Investigation (CBI) will also be conducted by DPI. Information about fingerprint submission, when necessary, is available through the Department of Public Instruction.

Before applying for a license, DPI requires the electronic submission of “Endorsed Candidate for Licensure" (ECL) data by the certifying officer of the institution where the teacher preparation was completed. For UW–Madison teacher certification students, the endorsement will come from the School of Education, 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Once this information has been submitted to DPI, students are notified by email that they may begin the application online.

Before endorsing a student, UW–Madison requires that (1) all certification requirements are met; (2) student teaching (following the school district calendar) is completed; (3) final grades are posted and reviewed; (4) the degree is "posted" by the registrar's office (four to five weeks after graduation); and (5) a recommendation for certification is received from the program faculty. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction may require an additional 6 to 12 weeks for license processing. See Educator Licensing for additional information about the licensing process.

Licensing Outside of Wisconsin

To apply for a license in a state other than Wisconsin, first check out the application requirements of that state. The University of Kentucky has a website that provides links to teacher licensing agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Many states have a verification form that needs to be signed by a UW–Madison certification officer. This form verifies that a state-approved licensing program has been completed. These forms should be sent to Education Academic Services at 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, or by email (mlpatton@wisc.edu) to be completed. If the form requests information about practicum and student teaching assignments (names of schools, grade levels, dates, etc.), this information must be completed before sending the form to EAS. 

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.