Inside the Incubator Using Apprenticeships to Redesign Teacher Preparation

Writing for The 74, Asher Leher-Small recently reviewed the ways in which apprenticeships are transforming teacher preparation across the country. Excerpts from the piece appear below:

Wyoming is rolling out a program designed to eliminate key barriers to becoming an educator — and doing so with the help of a network of more than a dozen other states at the vanguard of what many consider a revolution in teacher preparation

Wyoming and its peers in the National Registered Apprenticeship in Teaching Network are applying a decades-old, on-the-job training model long associated with trades like plumbing or welding to educator preparation. They say the technique has the potential to make becoming a teacher more affordable and hands-on.

Though the federal government has run a skilled apprenticeship program for 85 years, teaching was only added to the list of approved professions in 2021. But rather than attempt to navigate uncharted turf on their own, officials from 14 states and counting have banded together to share tips and tricks from the field. The network launched in August and is led by David Donaldson, one of the architects behind Tennessee’s teacher apprenticeship program, which was the nation’s first federally approved model.

The U.S. Department of Labor currently recognizes the apprenticeship programs of 12 states, including seven that participate in Donaldson’s network: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. Other states in the network, including North Dakota, are in the process of applying for state or federal approval.

 At least four states in the network have ensured tuition, books and licensure exams are fully funded, Donaldson said, meaning no out-of-pocket costs for candidates. At the same time, students can earn a salary for their student teaching roughly equivalent to that of a paraprofessional, around $20,000. In West Virginia, the price tag is a bit higher. Warren estimates apprentices who begin in high school would pay roughly $11,000 per year of higher education, offset by a roughly $32,000 salary in the clinical year before finally earning a teaching certificate.

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