Teacher Apprenticeships Coming to Delaware

At a Glance...

-Delaware employs a multipronged approach to strengthening its teacher workforce, which now includes teacher apprenticeships.
– A recently introduced bill, HB 138, will codify registered apprenticeships in teaching.
-Like the ones found in traditional trades, teacher apprenticeships are paid opportunities with on-the-job training and mentoring.
-Apprenticeships provide another pathway to certification for candidates, including paraprofessionals.

Delaware has a strong, multifaceted strategy in place when it comes to strengthening its educator pipeline. Like other states, Delaware continues to face educator shortages—prompting  the Delaware Workforce Development Board to name teaching “a priority, in-demand occupation.” The state has in place some short-term strategies, including a nine-percent salary increase for teachers in next year’s budget, and longer-term pipeline development and retention approaches as well. Now, we’re adding another approach with teacher apprenticeships.

Delaware’s Approach

Districts now begin recruiting their own middle school students into the profession through career exploration models. In high school, almost 3,000 students are enrolled in teacher pathway courses—and their demographics more closely reflect the diversity of our student population, unlike our current breakdown of teacher demographics.

As we’ve written about previously, our state’s year-long teacher residency program has grown from just a few to over 100 residents annually in just a few years, and the General Assembly has codified it and devoted ongoing resources to support residents. Delaware schools are seeing success in their retention because these graduates become fully immersed into the full school year and culture, whereas most student teacher opportunities only last a few months. Last year, the General Assembly codified funding to support “Grow Your Own” initiatives to attract candidates within the school community through improved recruitment, retention, and diversity of educators.

Teacher apprenticeships are another component to Delaware’s Grow Your Own approach. A recently introduced bill, HB 138, will codify registered apprenticeships in teaching. The bill is led by all Senate and House Education and Labor committee chairs and members of the Delaware Workforce Development Board.

Why Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are a model used in many industries and have proven to be an effective earn-and-learn model for career development that provides on-the-job training and mentoring—as well as “related training and instruction,” the professional training required to support career development.

Aspiring educators will find themselves in high-quality, industry-driven pathways that pay them and provide them hands-on work experience. Increased wages as the candidate progress are a foundational agreement in the apprenticeship. Candidates will be required to meet the student teaching and coursework requirements of teacher preparation in Delaware.

In recent years, two states registered teacher apprenticeship programs with the U.S. Department of Labor (Tennessee and West Virginia), and fourteen others developed and registered their state-level apprenticeship programs, which is the approach Delaware is taking.

The Delaware Departments of Education (DDOE) and Labor (DDOL) and the National Grow Your Own Center have been part of planning this work in Delaware and informing the legislation, which was based on other states’ models.

Apprenticeship is a great pathway to certification for candidates, including paraprofessionals—and it complements the other strategies we have in place in Delaware.

What’s Next?

Rodel is a proud partner in these efforts, supporting districts and charter schools, educator preparation programs, the Delaware Department of Education, and legislators to advance these important initiatives. We look forward to supporting a pilot in the fall in Appoquinimink School District and to working with the DDOE and DDOL to explore how to leverage federal funding to support these initiatives.

Delaware Advances Early Literacy Initiatives

At a Glance...

-Delaware continues to focus on early literacy, a critical benchmark for a child’s educational development.
-Three bills passed in the last two legislative sessions are now being implemented, bringing about higher standards for learning materials, training for educators, and screenings for students.
-A few districts in Delaware are being celebrated nationally for their approach to high-quality instructional materials (HQIM).

We often hear that children learn to read and then they read to learn—with this transition happening at a critical point in third grade. And we know that we as a state can do more to enable children to read to learn and reach their full potential.

In recent years, the issue has gotten even more attention for a few reasons. A greater spotlight has shone on this issue as national data have been released about the loss of learning during the pandemic. The science of reading has become accepted as a body of research educators can rely on to teach children to read—and has been upheld in legislative efforts to establish state policies related to teaching reading. Early literacy has also been a high priority of Governor John Carney and the Department of Education.

If you can’t read proficiently at third grade, what’s going to happen the rest of your life? You’re going to struggle.Governor John Carney, in remarks about his proposed state budget

State Efforts Recognized Nationally

We’ve written in the past about the energy around literacy in Delaware: The state plan was released in 2019, and the Department of Education has led tremendous efforts to strengthen grade level instruction, through high-quality instructional materials and high-quality professional learning to educators. The work has included professional learning grants to support district and charter adoption of these curricula and evidence-based options for educators to get trained in a variety of formats. These formats include traditional in-person trainings and higher education programs, including LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) and other nationally recognized programs. Delaware also has been a leader on an innovative approach: microcredentials, which allow educators to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to earn recognition in literacy. This approach—called competency-based professional development—is something the Rodel Teacher Network has advocated for since 2016.

Recently, Delaware has recognized by national experts for this approach. A new report from the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University, “Staying the Course,” celebrates Delaware’s adoption of high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) and recognizes districts like Seaford, which has  transformed from one of the state’s lowest-performing districts to one of its highest on the state’s reading test, after adopting and implementing a high-quality curriculum.

Across the state, districts adopting HQIM have seen increased scores and fewer reductions since the pandemic. Some of the main benefits of this approach, according to educators featured on a recent webinar, are:

  • Equity and consistency: Students benefit from tier 1 instruction across the school and district, and educators can support each other.
  • Support for teachers: HQIM provide more support for teachers for intervention and removes the burden of educators to create and find materials, which can often lead to significant time demands without improved quality—another area the Rodel Teacher Network has promoted.
  • Engaging content: Educators report serving as facilitators of student led conversations and discussions, and that they have found joy in classrooms through using these materials.
  • More effective: Educators spoke to reductions in remediation and anticipate significant reduction in the need for intervention if all students receive this high quality instruction.


The state and districts leveraged federal funding in recent years to invest in high-dosage tutoring and focused on accelerated learning in their resources through extended school year grants for summer and after school. Colonial’s partnership with Reading Assist was featured by NBC news as a strong use of these dollars. This partnership coupled with Colonial’s new investment in early literacy HQIM stands to increase outcomes for the district’s early learners.

Implementation of Legislation Underway Bolsters Efforts

In 2021 and 2022, three bills were passed to establish policy requirements related to teacher education, curriculum and training, and screening and reporting. The requirements are now being implemented, including: working with institutes of higher education to ensure faculty who teach prospective teachers are trained on the science of reading, and releasing a list of curriculum and screeners from which districts and charters can select (anticipated in May 2023). These HQIM that focus on literacy (English Language Arts or ELA) in grades K-3 will provide the tier 1 instruction that research tells us can help  95 percent children learn to read without interventions by the end of first grade.

By 2027, all public schools in Delaware are required to be implementing HQIM, training for educators, and screenings to identify those children that do need intervention. By the end of this year, we’ll have a sense of how many districts are already on track and how many students are receiving interventions—based on reporting anticipated by December 31.

Emily Hanford’s “Sold a Story” podcast gives context on why the research on how students learn to read has not been adopted in the last few decades. Her research features Delaware among 26 states that have passed legislation since 2019 intended to support the implementation of the science of reading, and we are one of 12 states that require districts and charters to select from a list of state-approved curricula.

In Action

We know these approaches work—and we have exemplars in our state that are already underway. Reading Assist has demonstrated the benefits of explicit instruction based on the science of reading through targeted intervention—demonstrating the majority of students receiving tutoring reaching benchmarks and growing at twice the anticipated rate. Governor Carney recognized Reading Assist at a recent Rotary Club of Wilmington meeting and noted state efforts to expand their services statewide.

This week, I had the opportunity to visit Cooke Elementary with Senator Laura Sturgeon and see in action the implementation of explicit, systematic instruction based on the science of reading. Red Clay School District is piloting two curricula in anticipation of adoption in the coming years. The excitement of the educators and engagement of the students was exciting to see—and the early results are promising.

It is awe-inspiring to see the difference good materials and instructional strategies make for the students entrusted to our education system.Senator Laura Sturgeon reflecting on a site visit to K-3 classrooms in the Red Clay School District

Delaware is on the right course – we are optimistic that as more educators are given the training and opportunities, we all will see the benefits.

General Assembly Proposals Seek to Stabilize Child Care

At a Glance...

-Two new bills look to stabilize the child care industry in Delaware and reduce burdens on providers and families.
-Senate Bill 58 will eliminate child care copays for low-income families, while Senate Bill 59 will establish a consistent statewide Purchase of Care reimbursement rate.
-For decades, early care programs in Kent and Sussex counties have received lower rates for providing the same services as New Castle County providers.

Leading Senators on Health & Social Services and Education Committees have introduced two bills responding to advocate priorities focused on Purchase of Care, a state subsidy, which has been underfunded for decades. The bills will pay child care providers a statewide rate and stabilize support for families and providers.

Senate Bill 58 will extend policies adopted during the COVID-19 public health emergency, in which the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS):

  1. …Did not charge “copays” for Delaware families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Copays are the amount families are required to pay on top of the state subsidy; in some cases, Delaware had copayment requirements in place well beyond the federal recommended maximum of seven percent.


For example, a family making $44,000 pre-tax would be paying $4,000 in copays toward child care per year. (This is on top of “plus” payments that child care programs are allowed to charge families to make up the difference between the state subsidy rate and their own tuition rate.) By limiting copays for families who have the greatest need for support, the state provided stability to families and the early learning programs supporting them.

Brain development does not start at age five; all children deserve opportunities for early learning and development. In the future, we may reach the level of other developed nations that provide comprehensive care and education to all families. Short of that, Delaware may put in place a sliding scale, where the families most in need pay nothing and as a family’s income increases, they pay a portion up to seven percent of their income. This is a strategy some nonprofit providers already employ in Delaware by “scholarshipping” some (or all) students to offset the low rate the state pays.

  1. …Reimbursed Purchase of Care providers for 15 absent days per child per month. Unlike pre-K-12, where schools are funded for a child for the year, child care is funded based on daily attendance reporting, which can be unpredictable. With absent days covered by the state, providers have assurance that the child’s place in the classroom can be held, ensuring continuity of care and building the bonds and strong relationships key to child development.

Delaware’s state-sponsored pre-K option, Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP), has avoided this challenge thanks to its unique funding structure. The program is managed through state contracts, similar to pre-K-12, where children’s slots are funded for the year. Starting in the fall, this program will serve zero-through-five year olds statewide with higher quality standards.

In the future, we hope all early learning programming can be managed through contracts, which create predictability and stability for providers and families—while establishing oversight and transparency for government. Contracts ensure funds are being used to support high-quality programs with fairly paid staffs.

DHSS included both of these items in its full FY23 budget, so these can take effect immediately upon being signed into law and avoiding a disruption in the policies being “unwound” as part of the end to the public health emergency.

Another bill, Senate Bill 59, directs DHSS to pay a statewide rate to all child care providers aligned with the rate paid to providers in New Castle County. For decades, early care programs in Kent and Sussex counties—and those who operate statewide—have been penalized as much as 40 percent for providing the same service.

How? State subsidy rates have been based on a faulty “market rate” that doesn’t actually reflect the cost of providing care to children. The market for child care is considered to be fundamentally broken nationally—and named as such by the U.S Treasury and U.S. Department of Labor in recent years.

Costs, on the other hand, are similar statewide. Teacher salaries, which make up the majority of providers’ budgets, are similar, with most providers paying minimum wage or more to keep up with other employers, and costs for supplies and food have been rising similarly.

This bill would take effect May 1; a recent DHSS report indicates that existing funds can cover this expense in the current budget year—and the state is receiving an additional annual $4 million from the federal government that can go toward evening out investment levels.

These are common sense policy changes that will stabilize child care in Delaware as we build toward our long-term aspirational system where children get the developmental experiences they all deserve—and where young families are supported and attracted to Delaware. We thank the General Assembly for their action and leadership on these issues—and look forward to working with the Joint Finance Committee to increase rates to cover the cost of child care in FY24.

Governor Recommends Increases for Early Education; Focus Turns to General Assembly

Governor John Carney recommended significant increases in his FY24 Budget: over $10 million to increase child care rates, family eligibility, pre-K, and for children with special needs. These initial steps will continue to stabilize the foundation and support children and families for the high-quality system we aspire to long-term. 

Although the governor’s budget outlines strong initial steps to stabilize child care so they can begin to serve more families, there are significant challenges that will require long-term commitments: 

  • Workforce. According to a Early Learning Needs Assessment by the Delaware Office of Early Learning, the early learning workforce has decreased by 12.6 percent in the last five years. Fifty-eight percent of programs reported that their inability to hire and retain staff was the primary reason for classroom closures, and 53 percent reported at least one classroom closed.  The consensus has been that low wages  and lack of benefits continue to be the biggest barrier to hiring staff.  
  • Cost for Families:  In a recent survey of hundreds of parents and caregivers, 50 percent said child care is their biggest monthly expense, with a majority, 81 percent, said child care expenses are holding their family back from improving their situation in at least one way, including taking a job or increasing hours at work, going back to school, or buying a home. In a recent fact sheet highlighting affordability, data show that child care, per child, costs 20 percent of the median income in Delaware. Even those who qualify for public assistance can expect to pay 10 percent of their family income on care.


“Our experience with finding child care has been a series of epic failures. We were put on numerous waitlists for centers in our area—most with a year-plus waiting list and insanely expensive.” -Delaware parent


  • Access to Publicly Funded Care: Access has decreased to only one in seven children served through public funding, which means 85 percent of children do not have access to public early care and education —and children are only young once. They need and deserve access to formal care and education so they can engage in critical early learning developmental opportunities.  And, this access has decreased in recent years despite funding remaining stable.  
  • Availability of Care: If they can afford care, long waiting lists continue to plague caregivers seeking child care, with more pronounced challenges in Kent and Sussex counties. Among caregiver respondents, 71 percent looked into two or more options for their child—and more than a third (37 percent) were placed on a waitlist. child care, compared to 16 percent of children in New Castle County. A recent fact sheet on child care accessibility noted that waiting lists are as high as 1,500 families and years long in some cases.   
  • Advocates have outlined areas where the General Assembly—especially the Joint Finance Committee—can build on the Governor’s Budget to address these issues for families and children.


Contact members of the Joint Finance Committee to ask them to build on the governor’s budget here or here 

Other Recent Progress

These efforts have demonstrated strong collaboration and alignment with the Delaware Early Childhood Council Strategic Plan.