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Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway

Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway Participants

With the passage of HB 1201 in the 2024 legislative session, South Dakota is offering a 2nd cohort for the two-year Registered Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway to provide paraprofessionals employed in an accredited school system the opportunity to earn a teaching certificate, assuming a full course load each term. Through completion of this program, participants will earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education, special education, or secondary education while continuing to work as a paraprofessional in their school and receiving support from experienced mentors.

The South Dakota Department of Education is in partnership with Dakota State University (elementary and special education), Northern State University (secondary education), the South Dakota Board of Regents, the South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation, and local school districts. This effort is aimed at addressing teacher shortage challenges across the state.

It is anticipated that the 2nd cohort will have up to 90 participants.

What is the Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway?
  • The Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway is a program aimed at moving paraprofessionals (i.e., teacher's aides) currently working in South Dakota schools to certified teaching positions.
  • NSU and DSU offer the necessary coursework over a two-year period, culminating in a student-teaching experience in the paraprofessional's home district and resulting in a bachelor's degree in education.
  • Coursework is offered virtually in the evenings or other convenient times, so the apprentice-teacher can continue to work in the school as he or she is taking classes.
Who is eligible?
  • Selected participants must be employed as a paraprofessional (also known as an "aide", "educational assistant" or "teacher's aide") during the apprenticeship until the beginning of their student-teaching period. Participants will continue to be compensated at rates determined by the district during this employment.
  • Participants will be responsible for $1,000 per year to assist with tuition, along with the cost of required books and state-designated assessments, such as the Praxis test.
  • School districts will complete a statement of assurance and recommendation form for their paraprofessional(s). This form will be provided to the district near the close of the application period. This form will be returned directly to SD Department of Education to ensure privacy of the recommendation.
  • School districts will be responsible for $1,000/year to help support the local mentors that will be working with the teacher apprentices.
  • School districts will identify and provide the local primary mentor for their apprentices. Guidelines for selection will be provided.
What is the timeline for the 2nd cohort?
  • May 1, 2024 Applications close
  • June 1-15, 2024 Selection notification occurs
  • July 16, 2024 Orientation meeting in Pierre for selected apprentices and their local primary mentor-teachers
  • Fall 2024 Classes to begin
  • Summer 2026 Classes associated with Cohort 2 end