How North Dakota is Preparing Future School Leaders

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State education leaders understand the value of establishing and investing in a strong educator workforce to improve student outcomes. Research shows that effective school principals can increase student learning by up to three months annually, resulting in a positive impact on their overall success. 

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) under State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler’s leadership invested pandemic relief funds to develop a comprehensive, multipronged approach to bolster the educator workforce. In 2021-2022, the state received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor on a Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program that provides supervised, on-the-job training for educators while they obtain credentials required to advance their careers.

Additionally, in 2023 the Labor Department designated North Dakota as the first state with a principal apprenticeship program, which provides tuition assistance for educators who want to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership. In addition to tuition assistance, aspiring school leaders receive mentoring opportunities, firsthand experience from a current principal and can take advantage of “learn as you earn” opportunities while participating in the apprenticeship.

Looking ahead, North Dakota hopes to yield impactful results with its principal apprenticeship. Recently, the NDDPI awarded North Dakota State University a $150,000 competitive grant to defray tuition costs for apprentice principals. There are 11 apprentices so far across three school districts.

Several states have registered teacher apprenticeship programs. North Dakota is one of many deploying these types of strategies to strengthen the educator and principal pipeline.

Learn more in the video below and visit for more resources on school leaders.


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