Madison – Governor Tony Evers signed two bipartisan education licensing reform bills into law, at a signing ceremony in the East Wing of the State Capitol on November 21, 2019. These two bills were authored by State Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green).

“I would like to thank Governor Evers for signing these common-sense bills into law, and my colleagues Sen. Howard Marklein, Rep. LaKeshia Myers, and Rep. Don Vruwink for their strong support,” said Rep. Tranel. “I am glad we were able to come together and get rid of unnecessary licensure barriers, and help our local school districts be able to recruit and retain the very best educators to serve in our rural communities.”

Both Assembly Bill 194 and Assembly Bill 195, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 44 and 2019 Wisconsin Act 43 respectively, were developed after local southwest Wisconsin educators and school administrators identified problems existing in the current licensing system and brought them to the attention of Rep. Tranel and Sen. Marklein.

“It was an honor to work with local educators and school district leaders to craft this legislation,” Marklein said. “I had invited Gov. Evers to sign the bills in the 17th Senate District, but I am pleased that we got the job done, nonetheless. These bills will give our school districts improved tools to meet the needs of our children. I appreciate the Governor’s swift signature and enactment into law.”

2019 Wisconsin Act 44 creates an alternative to the requirement that an applicant for an initial special education teaching license must pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). Under the bill, a person may instead complete a course that satisfies the following requirements:

  1. The DPI-approved course provides rigorous instruction in the teaching of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency.
  2. A student in the course receives feedback and coaching from an expert of reading instruction.
  3. A student in the course demonstrates competence in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency by providing a portfolio of work.
DPI must waive the requirement to pass the FORT if an applicant for an initial special education teaching license demonstrates to the satisfaction of the agency that he or she successfully completed such a course.

“CESA 3 Director Jamie Nutter deserves a lot of credit for bringing the special education licensure issue to our attention,” said Rep. Tranel.  “He is a tremendous leader in the education community and someone who works hard each and every day to help our students succeed.”

2019 Wisconsin Act 43 creates an alternative method for meeting a requirement for receiving a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) teaching license based on having an out-of-state license, referred to as a license based on reciprocity.

Under current law, DPI must issue an initial teaching license based on reciprocity to a person who: (1) holds a teaching license from another state; (2) is in good standing in that state; and (3) has taught for at least one year in that state under the out-of-state license.

This bill allows a person to receive a teaching license based on reciprocity if the person taught for two semesters under a DPI license or permit in Wisconsin, as an alternative to teaching for one year under the out-of-state license. To meet this qualification, the school district, CESA, private, or charter school where the person taught, must notify DPI that he or she successfully completed two semesters of teaching experience.
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Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City), Representative Don Vruwink (D-Milton), Representative LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee), and Representative Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) were the legislators in attendance at the bill signing today. Not pictured is the Senate lead author, Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green).
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