Secondary Teacher Education Preparation (STEP) Program: Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty

What are the STEP program requirements?

What is the DPI?

Do students have to apply to the School of Education?

What is EA-A?

What tests do students have to take?

What field experiences are required as part of the STEP program?

When do students student teach?

What is the student portfolio?

If students graduate from UW-L, can they teach in another state?

What if an English major decides he/she would like to transfer into the STEP Program?

What if a STEP student decides he/she does not want to teach?

Should students select a certifiable education minor?

How can students become eligible to teach English as a second language?

Can STEP students study abroad?

What are the recommended professional education core sequence and STEP requirements?

What is the Professional Development Plan (PDP)?

If you have questions about the new program, you can access the STEP website at the following link: http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/kosiak/SOESTEP/index.html

What are the STEP program requirements?

The STEP Program includes three sets of program requirements:  

  1. General Education Requirements 48 credits.  To ensure that teacher candidates meet state performance competencies, candidates will select general education requirements from the list applicable to teaching certification programs.
  2. Secondary Professional Education Requirements 35 credits. To ensure the teacher candidates meet the goals and objectives of the STEP Program, candidates will progress through coursework designed to integrate theory with practice, as well as provide candidates with the opportunities to reflect upon teaching experiences.
  3. Content Major Requirements 36-38 credits. To ensure the teacher candidates have a deep understanding of the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structure of their discipline, teacher candidates will complete program requirements outlined by their respective content department(s). Required Content Major courses will include the four credit course, Teaching and Learning (Content) in the Secondary School

What is the DPI?  

The DPI is the Department of Public Instruction.  Students in STEP earn a degree from UW-L and may apply for a license to teach from the DPI, therefore all teacher education students must meet certain state requirements in order to be licensed to teach in Wisconsin.

Do students have to apply to the School of Education?

Yes, all education students must apply to the School of Education.  Some students assume that admission into the University equates to admission into the School of Education.  Pre-education students, especially those in the STEP Program are advised to gain experience working with children and youth, pass the PPST during their freshman year, and apply early to the School of Education.

All students must be admitted to the School of Education in order to enroll in professional education courses. Meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee admission into a teacher education program. Limited availability of resources impacts the number of students admitted.

STEP students typically apply during their sophomore year and must meet the pre-application criteria below before applying to the School of Education:

All application materials are due at 4:30PM on the Friday of the fourth week of the Fall or Spring semester.

Application materials include the submission of a current resume, unofficial transcripts, and a one-page educational essay paper. Application guidelines and forms can be found at the following link: http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/kosiak/SOESTEP/admission.htm 

What is EA-A?

EA-A or Early Adolescence-Adolescence is a licensure range (approximate ages 10 – 21) available in Wisconsin license rule administered by the Department of Public Instruction. It was formerly called Middle Level/Secondary, grades 6-12. With the adoption of PI-34 (the current educator licensing rules), licensure ranges changed from grade ranges to developmental ranges. STEP students will receive a content area license or licenses at the EA-A developmental range.

Other licensure ranges include EC-MC, Early Childhood-Middle Childhood (birth – Age 11), MC-EA, Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence (Age 6 – 12 or 13), and Early Childhood-Adolescence (birth – Age 21).  

What tests do students have to take?

As required by the state of Wisconsin, all STEP students take both the Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST) and Praxis II: Subject Assessment exam(s).  The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers and charges for all Praxis exams. Information and registration for these Praxis exams is available at the following link: www.ets.org/praxis

Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST). The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires passing scores on the PPST prior to application for admission into all educator preparation programs. This test is used for professional assessments for beginning teachers. The test consists of three examinations in the areas of mathematics (passing score of 173), reading (passing score of 175) and writing (passing score of 174). This test is offered in both a computer-based and a paper and pencil format. The UW-L Counseling and Testing Center is a computer-based testing site. Students must pass all three components of the PPST in order to apply to the School of Education.

Praxis II: Subject Assessments. Wisconsin requires teacher education students to take and pass the Praxis II: Subject Assessments specified by the state for their license area(s). Wisconsin’s testing requirements can be found at http://www.ets.org/praxis/wi.

Passing the Praxis II exam(s) is/are prerequisite to student teaching. STEP students who minor or double major in a modern language must also pass the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) oral and written proficiency examinations prior to student teaching. Students are encouraged to confirm the test(s) required prior to test registration by contacting Sandy Keller, certification officer.

What field experiences are required as part of the STEP program?

Students complete two integrated field experiences, working in a local school prior to student teaching.  EDS 351: Language, Literacy and Culture in the Secondary Classroom (4 credits) and ENG 405: Teaching and Learning English in the Secondary School (4 credits). The second field experience is housed in content departments. In the context of a real classroom, teacher candidates will learn how to plan for and assess student learning.

 

The integrated field experience means that students meet on campus as part of a traditional course and complete a minimum of 50 hours in a school setting as part of that course. As part of the required 50 hours, students may tutor, observe classes and/or engage in class instruction.

After completing these two field experiences, major, minor (if completed), professional education requirements, and all other degree requirements, STEP students may apply to student teach.  

Student teaching is a full semester, full day following the daily schedule and semester calendar of the cooperating school (s. 118.19(3)(a) Stats.); a student teaching seminar is also required. Students do not take any other course work while student teaching.  During the student teaching semester, students take on whole class instruction, assessment and other professional duties.

When do students student teach?

Students usually enroll in student teaching the last semester of course work.  They must apply to student teach. Student teaching is a full semester, full day following the daily schedule and semester calendar of the cooperating school.

Application forms for student teaching are completed one year prior to the student teaching placement semester - in October for a fall semester placement and March for a spring semester placement. To be eligible for student teaching, students must complete requirements in their major(s), minor(s), and professional education coursework with at least a 2.75 combined cumulative grade point average and a 2.75 grade point average in the major, minor, concentrations and professional course work and an official passing Praxis II content test score report in the appropriate certification area(s)/discipline(s).

What is the student portfolio?

The DPI requires that each student document professional growth in the 10 Wisconsin Teacher Educator Standards.  Students complete a pre-student teaching and student teaching portfolio as part of the School of Education STEP Program. Students’ academic advisors are responsible for assessing their portfolio.  Additional information can be found at http://www.uwlax.edu/soe/portfolio/index.html 

If students graduate from UW-L, can they teach in another state?

Yes, although there may be additional course or testing requirements the applicant (out-of-state applicant) will need to complete.  Most states issue some type of license to an out-of-state applicant.  The out-of-state applicant is notified of the additional requirements to complete for eligibility for full licensure and is usually given a timeframe for completion of the additional requirements.   License application information for other states is typically available on the state’s Department of Education website.  Sandy Keller, certification officer, can assist with accessing licensing information in other states.

If students do not plan to teach in Wisconsin, they do not have to apply for licensure in WI upon completing the program unless the licensure requirements in the other state require or recommend it.  

What if an English major decides he/she would like to transfer into the STEP Program?

A student that elects to transition into a STEP content education major will need to complete all program requirements including student teaching and passing the PRAXIS exams. A student should contact a STEP academic advisor to outline their new program of study.

What if a STEP student decides he/she does not want to teach?

A STEP student who does not want to teach can transition into a content major without the Education emphasis. If the student chooses to complete the content education major, the student will need to complete all program requirements including student teaching and passing the PRAXIS exams.  

Encourage them to apply for licensure even if they do not plan to teach.  Life paths take different turns.  If they do not apply for a license after graduation and later decide they would like to teach, they will have to complete any new statutory requirements.

Should students select a certifiable education minor?

Students can complete an education minor at the secondary (EA-A) level in order to be certified to teach in a second field.  For example, history education majors may add English education as a minor and then be certified to teach in both content areas.  STEP students must complete all program requirements for both their major and minor. STEP students must take the Teaching and Learning course in each content area in which they will be certified.  They also must take the PRAXIS exam in both major and minor content areas.

For most STEP content majors and minors, student teaching for the major and minor is one semester with a combined placement. This includes TESOL minors.  Special education minors are required to have an additional student teach semester.

All MC-EA (elementary) majors are required to add a certifiable minor (PI34.28 (2).  

MC-EA majors are required to take only the Middle School Content Knowledge PRAXIS exam unless a minor/second major in German, Spanish, French, School Health Education, or TESOL is completed; additional testing requirements exist for these minors/second majors.

How can students become eligible to teach English as a second language?

To teach English language learners in public schools in the state of Wisconsin, a student must complete requirements in professional education, complete a certifiable major and the TESOL minor, pass the ESL Praxis II exam (test #0361) and the Praxis II exam(s) for the certifiable major(s), and student teach English language learners at appropriate levels. In most cases, students student teach for ESL during the same semester that they student teach for their content major.

Earning a minor in TESOL is highly desirable for the job market.  Encourage students to consider the TESOL minor.  Many of the TESOL requirements are required of the English Education Major and it does not increase time to graduation by many credits.

Can STEP students study abroad?

Yes, it is possible to study abroad and not increase time to graduation.  Students may earn credits in their content major or in the professional education requirements if the courses are evaluated to have content appropriate for the requirements.   It is very important that students who want to study abroad work closely with their academic advisor.

What are the recommended professional education core sequence and STEP requirements?

Freshman year: EFN 205 (3 credits), ENG 110 or 112, and PSY 212 (3 credits). Pass the PPST exam.

Sophomore year: EDS 303 (2 credits) and PSY 370 (3 credits).  Application to STEP (minimum of 40 earned credits with a 2.75 combined cumulative GPA and completion of STEP pre-application coursework including ENG 110 or 112 with a “C” or better, EFN 205, EDS 303, and PSY 212).

ENG 301(3 credits) should be one of the first ENG classes that a major completes.

ENG 332 (3 credits) should be completed in the sophomore or early in the junior year.

Junior year: EDS 309 (2 credits), EDS 319 (2 credits) and EDS 351 (4 credits + 50 hours Field Experience 1). Pass the Praxis II exam.  Background checks are required before the Field Experience and are valid for one year only. Students should visit the School of Education Office of Field Experience website for more information on clinical requirements:  http://www.uwlax.edu/soe/field/clinical/requirements.html

ENG 433 (3 credits) should be completed in the second semester of the junior year or first semester of the senior year.

Senior year

Semester I: SPE 401 (3 credits), ENG 405: Teaching and Learning English in the Secondary Schools (4 credits + 50 hours Field Experience II)

Semester II: Student Teaching/Internship and Student teaching seminar. Background check required before student teaching.

What is the Professional Development Plan (PDP)?

After a student graduates and begins teaching, he/she must complete a professional development plan during the first 5 years of teaching. The PDP is a process for renewal of an educator’s license based on planned professional growth and evidence of the effect of that growth on student learning.