The West Virginia Department of Education established a Grow-Your-Own Teaching Pathway and Registered Apprenticeship Program that shortens the time it takes to get a teaching degree and provides paid work experience during high school and college.
By Kristen McCaw | February 8, 2023
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY | The Grow Your Own WV Pathway to Teaching program plans to grow the teaching workforce by providing a faster, no-cost path to a Bachelor’s degree for high school students interested in the teaching profession. The program starts with 2 years of dual credit courses and classroom experience while students are in high school. Then, students complete 2 years of coursework in college paired with paid classroom experience, and then a final clinical year wherein the student becomes the salaried teacher of record in a classroom.
The Grow Your Own West Virginia Pathway to Teaching program aims to grow the teaching workforce by accessing the state’s greatest resource: its students. The program removes barriers for West Virginia students - many of who are first-generation college-going, live in rural communities, and are low-income - to pursue a career in education. Already, 32% of high school participants in the pilot program will be first-generation college students.
The pilot program, which began in Fall of 2022, has enrolled 250 students across 34 counties* and established partnerships with 16 institutes of higher education. It provides a path to a Bachelor's degree in teaching through a 2-year high school program followed by a 3-year college program. The delivery of courses is decided by each partner institution based on local needs and can be either online or in-person. The West Virginia Department of Education hopes to make all elements of the program free for students. Students are paid for their work while they complete their Bachelor’s degrees. A 2-year grant has been secured to cover the cost of the high school component, and the program has received commitments from Workforce WV to support the initiative. The governor's office and legislature are currently exploring sustainable long-term support.
See the Teach WV Apprenticeship Manual for more detail.
Each county is responsible for establishing program eligibility in its MOU. Generally, they are considering attendance, GPA, and discipline referrals in evaluating high school students for the program.
Courses, Credits, & Hands-On Experience
The high school portion: Students complete 2 years of the program during their junior and senior years of high school as a U.S. Department of Labor Youth Apprentice. During those years, they complete 8 courses that the partner institutions of higher education have agreed to accept as 24 credit hours toward students’ Bachelor’s degrees. Those courses are:
Introduction to Education
Introduction to Child Development
Introduction to Educational Psychology
Introduction to Social-Emotional Wellbeing
The college portion: Students are able to complete their Bachelor’s degree in 3 years because of the credit they have earned in high school. During the first 2 years of college, they complete core content. Their final year of college is a clinical year.
See the Grow Your Own West Virginia Teacher Planning Pathway Template for more detail.
The high school portion: During their junior year of high school, students complete 15 hours of field experience in a classroom. During their senior year of high school, students complete 100 hours of field experience in a classroom. Counties schedule these experiences with students and are expected to provide students with exposure to all three educational levels (elementary, middle, and high school) and across subject areas so that students are prepared to select a focus.
The college portion: During their first and second years post-secondary, students complete 125 hours of paid field experience in a classroom. The field placement coordinator at the institute of higher education is responsible for identifying these placements. During their third year of post-secondary, clinical students become the teacher of record in a classroom, earning no less than 65% of the state aid formula for a full first-year teacher salary. Where possible, students will return to the county that invested in their preparation for the clinical year. To support this, the state is encouraging counties to create a service agreement to retain teachers in a teaching position in the county for a minimum of three years.
See the West Virginia Apprenticeship Model for more detail.
Getting a Teaching Credential
As part of their college completion activities, students receive no-cost test preparation resources from Study.com and a voucher to cover the cost of the Praxis licensure exam.
This program is leveraging existing requirements for West Virginia counties to provide induction support for beginning teachers.
Given the high interest from county superintendents, there is urgency to expand the program to all 55 West Virginia counties. In addition to the Grow Your Own and Apprenticeship initiatives, the state is also preparing to launch a paraprofessional pipeline program that will support qualifying paraprofessionals who hold a Bachelor’s degree to complete their teaching license and fill a teacher vacancy at no cost to the paraprofessional.
*In West Virginia, what are referred to as counties are known as school districts in other states.
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