BISMARCK, N.D., July 14, 2023 – North Dakota has become the first state to obtain approval for including school administrators in a federally supported apprenticeship program, State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said.
The program will offer important incentives, including training and financial support, that are needed for educators to get the academic credentials they need to work as school principals. North Dakota hopes to get U.S. Labor Department grants that will benefit those aspiring principals, Baesler said.
North Dakota already has Labor Department approval for a similar apprenticeship program for teachers. The initiatives are designed to provide supervised, on-the-job training for educators while they obtain the academic credentials required to advance their careers.
For example, an assistant school principal may work under an established, veteran principal while taking online university classes to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership. The aspiring principal’s tuition costs would be paid. The degree is necessary to be credentialed as a North Dakota principal.
The Department of Public Instruction’s Labor Department application for the principal apprenticeship program was co-sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Center for Grow Your Own, which advocates for development programs for school teachers and administrators. Baesler now serves as president of the board of the CCSSO.
“This is an important step in making sure our North Dakota students and families continue to have the high-quality schools they deserve,” Baesler said.
“Strong leadership is the bedrock of any successful school, and this apprenticeship program offers our future North Dakota school administrators the financial help and training they need to fulfill their potential,” Baesler said. “Effective, well-trained school leaders are essential to prepare our students for success in their lives. This action will help our educators, our students, and their families for generations to come.”
Laurie Matzke, NDDPI assistant superintendent, said details of how the North Dakota principal apprenticeship program will work are still being established, including the number of participating colleges and the subsidies available for educators.
“This program will make it easier for educators to pursue leadership training and make it more affordable for them,” Matzke said. “We have been working with our university system and school districts to iron out the details of our state apprenticeship program, and to make them aware of the opportunities that it will offer.”
Carissa Moffat Miller, chief executive officer of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said North Dakota’s actions will benefit students across the country.
“North Dakota has again demonstrated national leadership in its efforts to improve K-12 education,” Miller said. “We are proud that Superintendent Baesler, who is the president of our board of directors, has convinced the U.S. Labor Department to make school administrators eligible for apprenticeship training and assistance.”