Master's K12 Leadership Cohort Program

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Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
School of Education
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MadisonWI  53706-1326

Tel: 608/262-3106
Fax: 608/265-3135

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The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live. —Oliver Wendell Holmes

K12 Master's Cohort Program

Beginning September 2012

The cohort program focus is explicitly on K-12 leadership for dramatically improving student performance and closing achievement gaps


Graduate Credit Requirements (pertaining to items listed below)

  • minimum graduate residence credit requirement
  • minimum graduate degree credit requirement
  • minimum graduate course work (50%) requirement
  • maximum credits per term
  • prior course work requirement


Program Features

  • UW-Madison School Of Education Community:

Students can complete their master’s program at a top-ranked program while working full time. Students have access to the wide range of course and program options available through the UW-Madison School of Education.

  • Expanded Career Options:

Along with completion of the master’s degree, students can receive licensure for the principal, director of special education and pupil services, and director of curriculum and instruction. Students will be well prepared for leadership positions in K-12 school systems or educational policy positions.

  • Leading for Learning:

The goal of the program is to link school leadership to high student achievement for all students and close achievement gaps. Students will learn the most recent, research-based effective practices and their theoretical foundations to improve student achievement in their schools.

  • Data Based:

Students will leave with a sophisticated set of strategies to use data to address school inequities, to make data-based decisions, and to empirically evaluate program effectiveness. These strategies will not only help students become highly successful school leaders, but also state leaders in improvement efforts.

  • State of the Art Technology:

Students will receive training in state of the art technology with a goal of providing access to technological tools that promote effective and sustainable learning environments.  By using leading edge technology throughout the program, students will master technological tools that they can use in their leadership practice to build more effective and efficient learning environments for both students and staff.

  • Learn From the Leaders:

Students will interact with nationally recognized UW-Madison School of Education faculty and leading practitioners. Students will learn from faculty who are engaged in ongoing research on schools and districts from across the country that have significantly raised student achievement for all students. Course instructors and visiting lecturers will also include highly successful Wisconsin principals and superintendents who lead schools and districts that have made significant gains in student achievement.

  • Sustainable Leadership Practice:

We recognize that leadership for equity and excellence can be intense and demanding both physically and emotionally.  Wisconsin Idea K-12 Master’s Cohort students will learn sustainable leadership practices by building a toolbox of proven methods, and by focusing on building distributed instructional leadership capacity in their schools. 

  • Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning:

Students will learn five domains of leadership practice proven to promote student learning, and will have access to the Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL) when they graduate.  CALL is an on-line formative assessment of distributed instructional leadership designed by University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty to provide feedback to school leaders to improve instructional leadership capacity of the principal and the entire school.  The CALL instrument will provide new leaders with immediate data on instructional leadership in their schools and will provide guidance for how to best move the school forward to improve student learning. 

Program Requirements

The following (33 credits) will satisfy the requirement for the M.S. degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis and principal licensure.

Prior to or during the semester in which students are completing the 10th semester hour of coursework, each student and advisor will prepare, submit, and obtain Department Chair approval for a master’s degree program plan. The program plan form can be downloaded from the Department website.

Course Descriptions

Semester 1(Fall):

Focus on Learning

  • ELPA 702 Introduction Educational Leadership
  • ELPA 735 Leadership for Equity and Diversity

Semester 2 (Spring:

Monitoring Teaching and Learning

  • ELPA 726 Data-Based Decision Making
  • ELPA 703 Evaluating and Supporting Quality Classroom Teaching (OR C&I 830 Theory and Design of the Curriculum, or C&I 662 Elementary School Curriculum, or other approved curricular course

Semester 3 (Summer):

Building Nested Learning Communities

  • ELPA 844 Technology and School Leadership
  • ELPA 847 Instructional Leadership and Teacher Capacity
  • ELPA 770 School-Community Engagement

Semester 4 (Fall): 

Acquiring and Allocating Resources 

  • ELPA 830 School Finance and Resource Allocation
  • ELPA 840 Public School Law

Semester 5 (Spring): 

Maintaining a Safe and Effective Learning Environment 

  • ELPA 845 School-Level Leadership
  • ELPA 700 Field Experience in Educational Leadership


Semester 6 (Summer): 

The following optional courses will be offered to receive certification for director of instruction and/or director of special education and pupil services.

  • ELPA 860 Organizational Theory and Behavior in Education
  • ELPA 875 Theory and Practice of Educational Planning
  • ELPA 835 Leadership for Inclusive Schooling
  • ELPA 842 Legal Foundations of Special Education and Pupil Services

Additional Licensure Requirements

Additional Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Requirements for Initial Educator Administrative License

  • Master’s degree or an approved equivalent in Education Administration (PI 34.32)
  • Eligible to hold teacher, counselor, school psychologist, or social worker licenses in the State of Wisconsin
  • Three years successful experience at the elementary/secondary level, or three years successful experience as a school counselor, psychologist, or social worker which included 540 hours of classroom teaching experience.
  • Completion of the human relations requirement of PI 4.11
  • Undergraduate or graduate course in human growth and development including child psychology, early adolescent psychology, or adolescent psychology.  (Ed Psych 301, 303, 320, 502, 520, 521, or 701)

From Department of Public Instruction FAQ

Q:  Can a teacher who holds an Initial Educator License and who completes an approved principal program apply for and be issued an Initial Educator License as a principal?

A:  No. The educator would first have to complete all requirements to advance his/her non-renewable Initial Educator License for teaching to the professional educator license stage. If an Initial Educator License was issued in an administrative category to an educator who still was licensed at the initial educator stage as a teacher, there is no assurance that the educator would complete requirements for advancement to the professional educator stage as a teacher. The educator would therefore no longer be eligible for the administrator license since eligibility for a teaching license is a prerequisite.


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