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School of Education

Overview: Elementary Education

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Elementary Education program prepares teachers who can foster high academic achievement in all students—particularly learners from diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities. 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 the 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. Admitted students begin the four-semester professional sequence in the spring after admission.
  • The Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence/Special Education option prepares teachers to work in intermediate and middle school settings (approximately ages 6 through 12–13). Students are certified in both Special Education and Elementary Education at the Middle Childhood–Early Adolescence levels. Admitted students begin the four-semester professional sequence in the fall following 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. Admitted students begin the four-semester professional sequence in the spring after admission.

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 will be determined by each school district based on the organizational structure of its schools and the philosophy and needs of the district.

Program Structure

Through program components, students of Elementary Education:

  • Are exposed to a broad range of academic disciplines through liberal studies and general education courses.
  • Examine schools' relationship to society, the development of children and adolescents, and the processes of learning in their education and professional sequence course work.
  • Study teaching methods and gain experience in schools through supervised field placements during their four-semester professional sequence.

Students interested in Elementary Education usually begin their academic careers in the School of Education with a "pre-professional" designation (Pre–Elementary Education or "PRE"). Pre–Elementary Education students enroll in liberal studies, general education, and—depending on the program options of interest—minor area, special education, and mathematics courses during their freshman and sophomore years. Most begin taking education course work as sophomores or during their professional sequence. Students who do not begin on campus as Pre–Elementary Education students and who wish to transfer to that status can find a pre-professional application form at this link.

Students generally apply to the professional program during their sophomore year and begin the four-semester professional sequence as juniors.

Program Admission

Students generally apply for admission to the Elementary Education program during their sophomore year. Currently, minimum eligibility requirements include 40 credits earned by the end of the fall semester before application; a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average or minimum scores on the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST; also called Praxis I); completion of RP&SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities by the end of the summer before beginning the program for students interested in the MC–EA/Special Education option; and completed application materials submitted by February 1. Admission is limited and competitive.

The Elementary Education program faculty selects candidates based on a variety of criteria. In particular they seek individuals who can demonstrate academic competence, multicultural and interpersonal competence, and reflective competence. See the Undergraduate Catalog section Application and Admission: Elementary Education for more details.

Advising

Students are encouraged to meet regularly with their School of Education advisor at either Education Academic Services (EAS) or the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (OURR). Each student interested in a School of Education program is assigned a specific advisor. Contact an Education advisor at Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Call 608-262-1651 to make an appointment. Students admitted to the program will also work with their assigned faculty advisor.

Prospective off-campus transfer students and on-campus students considering teacher education are also encouraged to meet with an EAS or OURR advisor in an individual advising session.

Incoming freshmen discuss program options with advisors during the Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) Program. At SOAR, advisors help students select courses and plan their first semesters at UW–Madison. Recognizing that students often have many academic interests and more than one possible career goal, School of Education advisors help students explore options and maintain academic flexibility.  

Transfer students also attend SOAR, but have specific days reserved for this group of students. Due to the specific needs of transfer students, the time at SOAR is organized differently than it is for freshmen. In the School of Education attention focuses on each student's transfer course work and how it fits into UW-Madison's program requirements.