Wisconsin Teacher Licenses: What You Need To Know

2017 Wisconsin Teacher License Change FAQs

The 2017-19 Wisconsin State Budget makes major changes to teacher licensing in Wisconsin. This WEAC document addresses some of the most common questions being asked about these changes.

What is a lifetime license?

A lifetime license enables a teacher in Wisconsin to teach in their area of certification without renewal throughout the course of a career. All educators holding a valid, unencumbered professional or master educator license will have their license converted to lifetime status.

Do I have to do anything to obtain my lifetime license?

No, DPI is simply removing expiration dates from current teacher licenses. There will be no cost to teachers for this conversion.

I was grandfathered under PI 34 and have been taking 6 credits every five years, do I have to continue taking classes?

No. Graduate credits are no longer required for license renewal.

I’m an initial educator and had my PDP goal approved. I am implementing my PDP and working toward verification. What should I do?

Stop working on your PDP. PDPs will no longer be accepted as a means of license advancement. As an initial educator your license will convert to a “3 year provisional license.” Once you have completed 6 semesters of successful teaching you can apply for a lifetime license.

As an initial educator can my previous teaching experience count toward my 6 successful semesters of successful teaching or do I need to start over?

Semesters completed prior to the passing of the budget in September, 2017 can be applied toward your lifetime license. The following requirements apply:

  1. The experience must be in the category of your license (teacher, admin or pupil services),
  2. The experience must be earned within the five years immediately preceding the start date of the lifetime license, and
  3. The experience must be verified by an employing school district.

What if I taught in a different district than I teach in now?

Any school district can provide documentation of successful teaching. Similarly, if you intend to move school districts in the future WEAC recommends that you secure documentation for your semesters of successful teaching prior to resigning from your current position.

I expected the State budget to pass sooner so I didn’t renew my license that expired on June 30, 2017.

You should submit your license application to DPI immediately. PI 34 rules allow an educator with an expired license to apply for a one-year extension. Educators who apply for a one-year extension by June 30, 2018, will receive a new license with an effective date of July 1, 2017, making you eligible for a lifetime license.

What is DPI doing about background checks?

Every 5 years educators will undergo a conduct and competency questionnaire and background check. There will be a small fee involved for this process.

When do I undergo my background check?

Background checks will continue to be on the cycle of your current 5 year license. For example, if your license was to expire in 2018 you’d complete the background check prior to June 30, 2018. DPI expects to send e-mails as a reminder, but teachers are ultimately responsible for submitting the background check questionnaire every 5 years.

Can my lifetime license be invalidated?

A lifetime license will be invalidated if an educator is not actively employed by a school district for five or more consecutive years or if the educator fails to log into the online system and submit to a background check every 5 years. Educators may reapply for a provisional license at any time.

I have licenses in two categories. One is initial and one is professional, what happens in my situation?

Many teachers hold multiple licenses.  If you have licenses in more than one category they will convert accordingly. For example, if you have a professional teaching license and an initial pupil services license the teaching license will convert to lifetime status and the pupil services license will convert to a provisional 3 year license.

What if I don’t meet the requirements under a provisional license in three years?

You can reapply for provisional licenses with no limit on the number of reapplications.

I am a retiree, can I use my lifetime license to substitute teach?

Yes. As a licensed educator you are eligible to substitute teach. Please check WRS and/or social security guidelines for income limitations.

I am Nationally Board Certified and hold a Master Educator license. Is that really a lifetime license?

Yes. However, you will need to follow NBPTS’s renewal/maintenance of certificate requirements to keep your National Board status current and to be eligible for the annual state grant awarded to Master Educator license holders.

I am a National Board candidate awaiting my scores. What if I certify?

You will have the ability to apply for a Master Educator license through the ELO system.