AACTE Applauds Educator Preparation-Based Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship Programs

New Apprenticeship Programs Funded by U.S. Department of Labor Work to Address Teacher Shortages and Remove Financial Barriers for Teacher Candidates

(January 26, 2022, Washington, D.C.) AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) supports the Tennessee Department of Education’s new Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship program as an innovative partnership approach to extend teacher pipelines and address teacher shortages.

In 2021, AACTE supported a federal application by the State of Tennessee and member institution Austin Peay State University (APSU) to create educator preparation-based Grow Your Own programs as acceptable apprenticeships for aspiring educators. After rigorous review and meetings with state and federal officials, AACTE endorsed the effort, which partners college or university educator preparation programs (EPPs) with local school districts to ensure teacher candidates are profession-ready upon entering the classroom.

Tennessee is the first state to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs. Following approval from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the state will establish a permanent Grow Your Own model, with a partnership between the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and APSU’s Teacher Residency initiative becoming the first registered program in the country.

The apprenticeship programs will address teacher shortages, remove financial barriers to becoming an educator for people from all backgrounds, and allow for continued investment in the teaching profession. This work builds upon Tennessee’s 65 existing Grow Your Own partnerships, between 14 university/college EPPs and 63 school districts, with a total initial investment of federal relief funding that exceeds $20M.

AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., clears up the misconception that these apprenticeship programs circumvent the need for an education degree. She noted, “Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs work hand-in-hand with university and college-based EPPs, while decreasing the financial burden on teacher candidates.” She continued, “This new apprenticeship model ensures that university and college-based EPPs remain at the core of educating our nation’s teachers, while removing financial barriers to entering the field and creating more sustainable opportunities for teacher candidates to pursue in-depth preparation.”

Prentice Chandler, Ph.D., dean of the APSU Eriksson College of Education, added, “This program has the potential to stem the national teacher shortage, create a more diverse teaching force, and license more teachers in high needs content areas. We are excited to work with AACTE, the Tennessee Department of Education, and Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools to create a new pathway for teacher candidates built upon robust, proactive partnerships between school districts and our educator preparation programs.”

While Tennessee is the first state to receive federal approval, additional states are expected to follow. With federal approval of the apprenticeship program, states and local communities can use funding to establish and maintain teacher apprenticeship programs, including in high need teaching areas like special education, mathematics, and science education.


AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation

AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) is a national alliance of educator preparation programs and partners dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. The over 650 member institutions and strategic partners include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at aacte.org.

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