Rapid City, S.D. – According to the statement, the South Dakota Department of Education will reportedly pilot the program beginning in the 2023-24 school year.
State officials also said that the program’s intent is to take successful para-educators, or teacher aides, and help them pursue certification to become fully accredited teachers.
Northern State University and Dakota State University will offer the necessary coursework over a two-year period, culminating in a student-teacher experience in the para-educator’s home district and resulting in the completion of a bachelor’s degree in education.
All coursework is offered virtually in the evenings or at other convenient times, so the participant can continue to work as a para-educator while enrolled.
During the 2022-23 school year, about 175 teacher vacancies went unfilled in the state, and the apprenticeship program is one attempt to address the shortage. The program has room for 60 participants.
The program has been made possible by a unique partnership of schools and agencies. Northern State University and Dakota State University, through the support of the Board of Regents, will be offering the coursework.
The Department of Education is providing oversight and funding, and the Department of Labor and Regulation is contributing funding to keep any costs to the apprentice teachers low.