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School of Education

Field Experiences for Teacher Certification

School-based field experiences are a critical part of students' professional preparation for teaching. In fact, student teaching is frequently cited as the single component of a teacher education program with the highest impact on future teaching behaviors of teacher candidates. For these reasons, teacher certification students are required to complete at least one pre–student teaching practicum and at least one full semester of student teaching. Most programs at UW–Madison require students to complete additional field experiences.

Student teaching is a full-time, school district semester assignment that places a university student under the guidance of an experienced, qualified cooperating teacher. The length of the student teaching assignment and vacation schedule are governed by local school district calendars rather than the university calendar. Thus, fall semester assignments start in late August and end in mid-January; spring teaching assignments typically begin the latter part of January and conclude the early part of June. Students should consider these extended calendar dates as they might affect housing, budget, employment, etc., during student teaching. These experiences are considered to be full-time semester assignments that usually preclude carrying additional course work or other employment. 

Alternative Placement Options

Alternative placement options include international student teaching, placements with the Institute for Urban Education, and teacher internships under the auspices of the Wisconsin Improvement Program:

  • Students seeking opportunities to enrich their preparation for teaching through an international student teaching experience should contact International Academic Programs (www.studyabroad.wisc.edu) for more information. Not all teacher education programs participate in these experiences.
  • The UW System Institute for Urban Education (http://iue.uwsa.edu) helps pre-service teachers pursue their desire to become urban educators and to provide professional development opportunities for currently practicing teachers. Not all teacher education programs participate in the Institute. Students should consult with their program coordinator for more information.
  • The teacher internship is a licensed, full-semester assignment that replaces the student teaching experience. Interns are under contract with a school district and paid a modest salary. Internships are rarely available; students are notified by the program coordinator when they are offered by a district and are available to our students.

Find detailed policies and regulations regarding student teaching in the Teacher Education Field Experience Policies (November, 2014). Students and staff are responsible for knowing and complying with the Field Experience policies. Many professional programs have their own separate handbooks and specific policies; students are also responsible for those policies and procedures.

Student Teaching Application Procedures

Information related to student teaching and the application process is available on the School of Education website. Please be aware that some program areas require students to file an application far in advance of the student teaching semester.

Wisconsin state regulations require that student teachers demonstrate that they are free of tuberculosis before being allowed to work in a school. Students must submit the negative result of a recent TB skin test signed by a health professional before beginning the student teaching experience. Test results are valid for two years from the ending date of the student teaching semester. Please note: Some school districts are requiring a TB Test completed within 90 days of placement. Tests may be obtained through University Health Services for a fee. 

General Eligibility Requirements for Student Teaching

Minimum eligibility requirements apply to all students. Several subject areas require a specific grade point average unique to a particular program, or additional course work as a prerequisite to student teaching. Students are urged to check with their Education Academic Services and faculty advisors to be certain that all eligibility requirements have been met. Students should check these items well in advance to preclude last-minute schedule conflicts in preparation for the student teaching semester. Minimum requirements are:

  • Admission to a School of Education certification program.
  • Completion of all course prerequisites, such as the teaching methods course(s) and pre–student teaching practica. Students should check for other possible course requirements in their specific area of study.
  • Passing a content examination in the certification area(s).
  • For world languages, an immersion experience and the appropriate score on the oral and written proficiency examinations.

Special Placements

The School of Education is committed to placing its students in classrooms with teachers we know, in schools led by principals we know. Thus, student teaching placements are made within the University of Wisconsin– Madison service area. In general the service area is 50 miles from Madison, but individual programs may (and do) reduce the size of their service area. Occasionally, students with extenuating circumstances are allowed special placements beyond this area. “Extenuating circumstances” have included spousal/partner relocation, family emergency, or a highly specialized placement. All special placements must be approved by the student’s program coordinator and Associate Dean Jeffrey Hamm. Students permitted special placements are usually liable for the cost of supervision (at least $500). Special placements are not permitted due to financial need or to enhance employment opportunities.

Withdrawing From/Failing Field Experience Assignments

Withdrawing from a field experience has serious implications for the student’s progress in the program. Students who withdraw or receive an unsatisfactory grade (including a “D”) from a field experience may not repeat such experiences without approval from the program coordinator and Associate Dean Jeffrey Hamm. Students withdrawing from or receiving an unsatisfactory grade in field experiences in one major or program may not enroll in another major or program without written permission from the program coordinator and after consultation with Associate Dean Hamm.

Permission to repeat field experiences is not automatically granted. A confirmed field placement is considered an informal contractual agreement between the university and the school in which the student is located. Under this agreement, university faculty, cooperating teachers, and students assume certain responsibilities and obligations to one another. A student's withdrawal from an assignment is considered to be an exception to the agreement and should occur only under the most unusual circumstances. Because of the consequences that withdrawal from a confirmed assignment may have on a student's future progress in the teaching certification program, a student who contemplates such action is strongly urged to consult with the program coordinator and Associate Dean Hamm to fully understand the implications of such action and the options available.