Assessing Professional Knowledge : Wisconsin

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should use a licensing test to verify that all new teachers meet its professional standards.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Assessing Professional Knowledge : Wisconsin results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Wisconsin does not currently require new teachers to pass a pedagogy test.

Wisconsin is part of the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) Consortium and began a pilot program in Spring 2011.


Recommendations for Wisconsin

Require that all new teachers pass a pedagogy test.
Wisconsin should verify that all new teachers meet professional standards through a test of professional standards.

Ensure that performance assessments provide a meaningful measure of new teachers' knowledge and skills.
While Wisconsin is commended for the use of a performance-based assessment, the state should proceed with caution until additional data are available on the Teacher Performance Assessment. Additional research is needed to determine how the TPA compares to other teacher tests as well as whether the test's scores are predictive of student achievement. The track record on similar assessments is mixed at best. The two states that currently require the Praxis III performance-based assessment report pass rates of about 99 percent. Given that it takes significant resources to administer a performance-based assessment, a test that nearly every teacher passes is of questionable value.

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin noted that its preparation programs must be standards- and performance-based. A signature component of the program is the required portfolio of evidence for each candidate, and pedagogical knowledge and skills are inherent within the performance assessments and evidence documented in these portfolios. The clinical program evaluations required within pre-student and student teaching must also measure pedagogical skills. Wisconsin added that it is utilizing the data collected through the TPA pilot project to study the TPA.  

Research rationale

For evidence of the importance of pedagogy tests in improving student achievement, see C. Clotfelter, H.Ladd and J.Vigdor, "How and Why Do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement?"  Working Paper 2, Calder Institute (2007).

For further information regarding the use of performance assessments and the Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium (TPAC) in California and other states see L. Darling-Hammond, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching" Center for American Progress (2010). 

For a perspectives on the issues with teaching dispositions, see W. Damon, "Personality Test: The dispositional dispute in teacher preparation today and what to do about it" in Arresting Insights in Education Vol.2 No. 3 (2005);  J. Gershman, "'Disposition' Emerges as Issue at Brooklyn College," New York Sun, May 2005.

For evidence on the low passing scores required by states on pedagogy tests, see the U.S. Department of Education's Secretary's Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality (2010). Also see K. Walsh "A Candidate-Centered Model for Teacher Preparation and Licensure" in A Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom (Hess, Rotherham and Walsh, eds.) (2004)