Benefits of an Apprenticeship-Based Teaching Degree Program
There are many benefits to K-12 districts of participating in an apprenticeship-based teaching degree program:
Build a homegrown, more diverse teaching pipeline: Apprenticeship degree programs allow prospective teachers to work and earn an income while studying and completing their credentials. This makes teaching more accessible to a broader group of people, enabling people from diverse backgrounds to join the teaching force and expanding the overall pipeline of teachers.
Attract new teachers who are better qualified: Apprentices are practicing, receiving feedback, and reflecting in an integrated way, meaning that when they start as a teacher, they will already have experience and can be more effective from the very beginning.
Bring in new teachers who know your schools: Apprentices observe teaching on a day-to-day basis and are part of your school community while they are learning how to teach, so they have relationships and know your school’s procedures before their first day as a teacher.
Build career pathways: Apprentices may serve as paraprofessionals or instructional assistants in your classrooms, and then grow into a teaching role, making these jobs more attractive and offering true career progressions within your district.
Offer a unique benefit to prospective candidates: The opportunity to work while earning a degree and credential at a low (or no) cost is not yet available everywhere making this a way that districts can differentiate themselves to prospective candidates at minimal or no extra cost.
The Reach Pillars
Reach University has identified five key pillars for an apprenticeship-based degree program. These pillars guide decisions related to all elements of the program design. As you design your program in partnership with an Education Preparation Provider (EPP), keep these pillars in mind or adapt them to your context.
Efficiency: Teaching apprentices work full time and still graduate on a standard timeline because their job as a paraprofessional counts towards the degree’s credit hours.
Flexibility: Classes are online and scheduled around apprentices' workday so that they do not need to travel far from home, miss work, or arrange childcare.
Relevance: Class discussions analyze apprentices' work experience (rather than theoretical problem sets, essays, or performance tasks) to ensure immediate applicability.
Affordability: Districts/parishes pay apprentices, and federal funding – such as Pell grants, WIOA funding, and other sources – covers the cost of tuition. Apprentices do not take on debt; they are paid to earn their Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential/license.
Professional Capital: Educational preparation providers (such as colleges or universities) coordinate around district/parish staffing needs. Apprentices know they have a teaching position waiting for them in their school district/parish when they graduate.
An apprenticeship program requires three groups to work together:
Sponsor: The sponsor is responsible for data collection, reporting, and monitoring the registered apprenticeship program. If federal funds are received, the sponsor will collect these funds and distribute them. The Craft tracker is designed to make data collection and reporting simpler by being the primary platform that apprentices use to track their work while gathering all of the elements required by the PIRL reports, which is hundreds of points of data for each learner on a quarterly basis. (Use of the Craft tracker is optional - your state may already have its own tool that serves this purpose.) Serving as the sponsor may enable a state department of education to ensure the quality of educator preparation programs (EPPs). It is strongly recommended that state departments of education play the role of sponsor because otherwise, other bodies, such as nonprofits, school districts, and EPPs, may seek to fill the sponsor role in your state.
Employer: The employer provides apprentices with a job that enables them to demonstrate mastery of on-the-job competencies they will need as a teacher. Often, apprentices serve as paraprofessionals or instructional assistants/aides because those positions are already located in a K-12 classroom. It’s worth noting that this makes offering a registered apprenticeship for the K-12 teaching occupation a great recruitment tool for vacancies in these roles as candidates have the opportunity to become the teacher of record in 1-4 years and earn an increase in pay. The employer also provides a mentor who will coach and oversee the apprentice.
Related instruction provider: The related instruction provider, which in the context of registered apprenticeship for the K-12 teaching occupation will consistently be an educator preparation provider (EPP), offers courses and instruction in pedagogy, practice, and content, and supports the apprentice to complete their degree and/or obtain their post-Bachelors credential.
The following terms will be useful to understand as you read this playbook:
Apprentice-based education: Apprenticeship-based education embeds on-the-job learning in the homework requirements of taught courses, rather than via credit for prior learning, which results in more credit, more quickly.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Apprenticeship (OA): According to the U.S. DOL, its role is to “provide technical assistance and support to program sponsors, answer questions about the apprenticeship model, guide partners on each phase of developing a program, connect businesses to training providers, and advise partners on available funding sources to support apprenticeships.” These offices exist in states that don’t have their own State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA).
State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAA): According to the U.S. DOL, these offices also “provide technical assistance and support to program sponsors, answer questions about the apprenticeship model, guide partners on each phase of developing a program, connect businesses to training providers, and advise partners on available funding sources to support apprenticeships.” You can find out whether your state has a U.S. DOL OA or its own SAA here.
Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL): This is a federal reporting requirement of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). A sample is here. The Craft tracker is built to pull all of the elements required by the PIRL reports, which is about 500 points of data for each learner.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and supportive services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.”
Related Instruction Providers / Educator Preparation Providers (EPP): Registered apprenticeships must have an entity provide instruction that supports the apprenticeship program, in other words, a Related Instruction Provider. In the context of registered apprenticeships for the K-12 teaching occupation, an Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) will always be the Related Instruction Provider.