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How to Become a Superintendent in Wisconsin

School superintendents play a critical role in ensuring successful operations within a given school district. They work closely with principals and staff to create high-performing institutions that achieve and exceed benchmarks set by the state and local district. They also serve as a liaison between the school and the community, as well as elected school board officials, as they work to bring to fruition the vision of these stakeholders. In fact, Superintendent of Schools Derrick Meador believes, “The superintendent is essentially the face of the district. They are most responsible for the successes of a district and most assuredly responsible when there are failures.”

The Steps to Superintendency in Wisconsin

To obtain a position as a superintendent in any Wisconsin school district, candidates must go through the certification process, a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) mandate. Requirements include:

  • Educational experience – Six semesters of successful teaching or pupil services experience (such as school counseling, nursing, psychology, and social work relevant to school administration) within five years from the July 1st start date of the license application is considered satisfactory. Candidates must also submit a PI-1613 Employment Verification form as proof of this experience. Short-term substitution assignments do not qualify as years of service for this requirement. Applicants are required to hold a Tier II, III or IV educator license in teaching or pupil services to have their experience recognized by the state. They must also hold a Wisconsin principal’s license in order to be eligible for a Wisconsin superintendent’s license.
  • Postgraduate degree – Perhaps the most important part of the application process is choosing a high-quality approved preparatory program within Wisconsin. You must identify and complete a state-approved education specialist (Ed.S.) degree, its equivalent, or a doctoral degree. The University of Wisconsin-Superior offers an Ed.S. degree which you can finish in as few as 18 months.
  • Application – Upon completion of the first two requirements, you must apply for an Administrator License offered by Wisconsin’s DPI. During this process, completed at the DPI’s Educator Licensing Online website, applicants fill out all necessary forms and answer conduct and competency questions. As proof of eligibility to be issued a superintendent’s license, applicants must also go through a background check and pay the $45 administrative fee. The license application fee itself is $125.

Taking the Next Step

The University of Wisconsin-Superior offers a degree program to develop professional aptitudes, skills and strategies you will need to be an effective school superintendent. The Education Specialist in Educational Administration – Superintendent/District Administrator online program gives you the flexibility to complete your degree without leaving your current position.

The online Ed.S. degree program consists of 10 classes, ranging from theoretical concepts and professional practice to real-world approaches to effective educational administration as well as 180 hours of an administrative internship. Admission to the program requires a master’s degree in education with a minimum GPA of 3.0, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, a principalship license and at least three years of teaching experience or equivalent. No GRE is required.

Upon completion of the program, you will be ready to gather the required documents and apply for your Wisconsin superintendent’s license.

Learn more about the UW-Superior Education Specialist in Educational Administration – Superintendent/District Administrator online program.


Educational Leadership Degree Programs: What Does a School Superintendent Do?

ThoughtCo: Examining the Role of an Effective School Superintendent

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: Administrator License

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: Employment Verification

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