State combats teacher shortage with new apprenticeship plan

Idaho will soon be adding a non-traditional path to teaching certification for those interested in both joining the profession and earning a paycheck while preparing to be in the classroom.

A supporter of the model, the National Education Association describes apprenticeships as “earn as you learn” programs where aspiring educators are paid a living wage while they take courses and spend one or two academic years working alongside an experienced teacher in a school.

The apprenticeship model — typically used to train electricians and plumbers — allows candidates to earn a degree and teaching certification while employed by a school district.

Still in the planning phase, Idaho’s teacher apprenticeship program will require its candidates — those who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree — to meet the same standards as a traditional program. Because the program has not been fully developed, there are limited details about timelines, coursework, costs, participating districts and who qualifies to enter the program.

But what is available at this time can be found at this link

In other states, similar programs serve recent high school graduates, paraprofessionals and other community members looking to make a career change, according to Education Week, a Maryland nonprofit organization covering K-12 topics. 

Because the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have urged states and school districts to create and register apprenticeship programs for teaching, more states are looking at this model to combat teacher shortages. Tennessee was the first state to be approved by the Department of Labor and seven other states have a registered apprenticeship program for teachers — Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Texas and West Virginia, according to Education Week.

Idaho joins several other states in the process of pursuing or developing teacher apprenticeship programs, Education Week wrote in a recent article.

Idaho’s new law says teacher apprentices who complete a practicum, internship or student teaching position under the supervision of a certificated staff person will be paid, and those who successfully complete the program will be eligible for standard certification. 

The State Board of Education is coordinating the new program. It has created a committee of about 20 stakeholders from various educational entities who will meet for the first time July 20 to start developing the program. 

“We expect to have a scope of work and some timelines coming out of that July meeting,” said Jenn Thompson, chief policy and government affairs officer. 

“There will be opportunities for public comment as we progress,” she added.

Leading up to the July meeting, the SBOE is gathering input from the legislative sponsors, superintendents and the Idaho Department of Labor, where the program will be registered.

“There is work to be done around designing what a path to teaching looks like within the boundaries of that program.  Specifically, whether we will create multiple pathways, defining the expected on-the-job competencies and related technical instruction,” Thompson said.

Senate Bill 1069 made administrative changes in the current certification requirements to allow individuals who complete an approved registered teacher apprenticeship program to be eligible for certification. Individuals participating in an approved teacher apprenticeship program will be paid at the discretion of the school district or charter school based on a locally set amount for participants of the apprenticeship program. 

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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