- The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor on Thursday announced the National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards, new federal guidance for states and districts planning to create registered teacher apprenticeship programs amid efforts by both agencies to expand apprenticeships and invest more in teacher preparation programs.
- As an extension of this initiative, a significant pool of money has opened up from both agencies: The Education Department is investing $27 million to bolster educator preparation programs, while the Labor Department is providing more than $65 million to build and scale registered apprenticeships in critical sectors, including education-focused initiatives in 35 states.
- The moves come as the registered apprenticeship model gains momentum in education. The number of statewide registered teacher apprenticeship programs jumped from two to 21 in the past year alone, said U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in Thursday’s announcement.
The new guidance, developed by The Pathways Alliance, outlines the requirements and responsibilities new apprenticeship programs must follow.
Teacher apprenticeship programs are paid models similar to grow-your-own programs which tap into high school students, community members or paraprofessionals to help attain a teaching certification. As they earn their teaching degree and license, teacher apprentices are paid while they receive mentoring from another teacher and go through in-classrom training.
The Pathways Alliance is a coalition led by InnovateEDU and the Learning Policy Institute that aims to support and implement diverse educator preparation pipelines. The group’s partners include like the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Center for Teacher Residencies and Deans for Impact.
“Our goals were to establish clear guidance regarding essential elements of high-quality teacher apprenticeship programs, and to streamline the application process for teacher preparation programs and their partners who wish to establish registered apprenticeships,” said Jacqueline King, a consultant for AACTE, in a statement.
In the announcement, Cardona also noted teacher apprenticeship programs help create an affordable pathway for future educators while simultaneously developing a talented and diverse workforce pipeline amid nationwide teacher shortages.
Erin Mote, executive director and co-founder of InnovoateEDU, agreed on that vision in a statement: “More than just guidelines, these standards represent our collective commitment to nurturing a preparation pipeline that supports broad access to high-quality preparation and champions diversity and inclusivity for educators.”
Thursday’s announcement comes weeks after the Labor Department shared that it officially recognizes “K-12 principal” as an eligible occupation for a registered apprenticeship.
Demand for solutions to the teacher shortage persisted before and during the pandemic. In October, the U.S. Government Accountability Office echoed those concerns calling on the Education Department to do more to address the issue.
As the historic federal funding influx from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds begins to wane, questions are beginning to be raised regarding the sustainability of funds used for staffing and addressing teacher shortages. Federal apprenticeship programs, however, may open a new funding stream to improve the teacher pipeline and ultimately address staffing concerns over time.
Some experts also say that just because ESSER funding will dry up soon and potentially lead to teacher layoffs, it doesn’t mean teacher shortages will simply vanish. The issue of finding and retaining enough teachers can have major repercussions. For instance, staff shortages are found to be a contributing factor to stalled COVID-19 academic recovery efforts, according to a new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education.