Developing Your Plan
To develop your plan, you will need to understand the costs and take steps to reduce them, determine how you will finance your program and ensure financial sustainability, determine who will fill each role in the program, and then determine which type of apprenticeship program you will set up.
Understand the Costs
Federal labor funding is not guaranteed, so it is critical that you and the related instruction providers with whom you partner are intentional about reducing costs. Reach University, a related instruction provider, has developed an approach that has enabled them to bring the cost down to $5,000 per year per undergraduate student through a combination of strategies, listed below. In practice, Pell grants average about $4,000, leaving a gap of about $1,000 for most students to cover with apprenticeship funding.
Overall philosophy: Determine what is most critical to the success of your students, and invest in that. For everything else, reduce costs as much as possible. Write out a clear philosophy and share it widely across your institution or department. For example, at Reach University, we know that student support is essential to student success and is highly valued by students, so we invest in maintaining reasonable ratios there while reducing costs related to software, textbooks, and having a physical location.
Personnel: Clinical faculty are part-time and offer increased staffing flexibility while allowing students to have access to experienced practitioners. Clinical faculty are core faculty, similar to health professions where nurses and doctors work part-time as faculty and are the core faculty of the educational institution.
Standardized programs: Instead of a cafeteria-style menu of options to choose from, consider offering a select number of pathways to each degree.
Pathway years: In this approach, which relates to standardized programs, each year has a clear and structured focus. These are outlined below, and a sample is available here.
Foundational: In this first year, students learn the foundations of collegiate learning, as well as metacognition and mastery. They start at their placement and begin getting better at their job today by developing professional skills and learning about classroom culture. In each course, they connect their field experience with their coursework.
Intermediate & Advanced: In these years, students focus on content and pedagogy, and are expected to pass their licensure exam.
Clinical: In this final year, students teach in the classroom.
Stackable degrees: Consider using courses in a modular way. In other words, courses for a certificate might also embed into an Associate’s degree program, which leads to a Bachelor’s degree program. This requires titling and numbering courses thoughtfully so that they can be used flexibly and aren’t limited to one degree or program.
Thematic semesters: In this approach, you would offer three (for example) thematically-related courses together during one term (e.g. all of the math classes offered during the same semester). This enables students to focus on one subject and make connections, and also enables a single instructor to teach the courses together, rather than having three instructors teaching three courses.
Applying Existing State Education Agency Funding
State Education Agencies (SEAs) can provide seed funding or planning funding through existing funding sources, which can be braided with funding from the department of labor. Examples include ESSER (through 2024), Title II, IDEA (for special endorsements), Title III (for English Learner endorsements), state general funds, and Perkins V (for high school programming or CTE endorsements). Several states have used these funds to cover startup costs before getting official approval for their apprenticeship programs.
Revenue Sources for Approved Registered Apprenticeship Programs
Potential revenue sources are as follows, and more detail on each can be found here.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Funds: This grant is administered by your local Office of Apprenticeship or State Apprenticeship Agency. Students apply directly to the Department of Labor for the funds. Once funding is received, there are requirements via the PIRL report, which the Craft tracker is designed to meet, though institutions can use their own program if preferred. Amounts vary by state. Each state’s total allocation is available here (see the WIOA Adult Activities Program Dollars Tables and the WIOA Youth Activities Program Dollars Tables).
Federal Pell Grant Program (Title IV): The grant amount changes yearly. It provides up to $6,895 per student for the 2022-23 award year. The program provides funds to every eligible student, with no limit per institution. It is provided to students with exceptional financial needs.
GI Bill: Apprenticeship programs may seek “Approved for GI Bill®” status, which enables students who are veterans and have existing benefits under the GI Bill® to potentially “qualify for a monthly stipend, paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in addition to the wages they receive in an apprenticeship, to help them meet their monthly expenses.” There is a streamlined process for this that should enable approved apprenticeship sponsors and employers to get this status in under 30 days.
State-specific teacher preparation grants: Some states offer grants for teacher preparation programs or other focus areas that might be relevant to your apprenticeship-based degree program. For example, in California, Cal Grants and Golden State Teacher Grants are available, and Louisiana offers the BESE Tuition Program for Teachers.
Best practices for accessing these funding sources include developing a thorough understanding of the requirements and timelines, building relationships with program approvers, and applying early.
Developing Your Budget
States should budget to fill the gap between existing funding and the cost of the degree. In other words, take the per-student cost of the educator preparation program, subtract per-student federal grant funding, and subtract existing state grant funding, in order to determine your net cost per student. Multiply the net cost per student by the number of candidates you need to participate in your program in order to reach your goals.
It is strongly recommended that partnerships between state departments of education and educator preparation programs (EPPs) require that all future apprentices file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) so that all of the funding that is currently available (see the list above) is exhausted. This enables you to maximize your state’s investment.
There are three key roles in a registered apprenticeship program for the K-12 teaching occupation. They are:
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 each quarter. (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 that 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, offers courses and instruction in pedagogy, practice, and content, and supports the apprentice to complete their degree and/or obtain their post-Bachelors credential.
Determine the Type of Apprenticeship to Set Up
There are three types of apprenticeship: time-based, competency-based, and hybrid.