State Policy Network
Wisconsin Legislature Passes Bill to Address Teacher Shortage

Thanks in large part to the Institute for Reforming Government (IRG), the Wisconsin Legislature passed a bill that would enable high-quality teacher apprenticeship programs in Wisconsin. Teacher apprenticeship programs extend student teaching so that future teachers can get more hands-on experience at a school while earning a paycheck.

By increasing on-the-ground training, these programs make it easier for people to enter the teacher profession and give potential teachers the real-world tools they need to stay successful educators long-term.

Teacher Apprenticeship Programs: A Bipartisan Solution to Teacher Shortages

Schools across the country have dealt with many problems over the last few years, including teacher shortages. Many schools are understaffed due to high turnover and struggle to fill important teaching positions. In fact, nearly 9 in 10 public school districts struggled to hire teachers heading into the 2023-2024 school year.

Teacher apprenticeship programs are one way to solve this problem. These programs reduce some of the barriers potential teachers face when deciding to become a teacher—namely the cost of going to school. Teacher apprenticeship programs fix early-career turnover by giving teachers full-time practice with a mentor before they graduate—all while paying them to work at a school. Experienced, well-trained teachers directly help students grow academically.

This bill in Wisconsin, also called SB 917, will enable all higher education institutions in Wisconsin to participate in teacher apprenticeship programs. Right now, areas like Milwaukee, Madison, and rural western and central Wisconsin will not be able to participate. SB 917 will allow these programs to develop there—directly helping the thousands of teachers and students in those regions.

The Institute for Reforming Government, a nonprofit policy organization in Delafield, Wisconsin, played a significant role in advancing this legislation. Through research, media appearances, legislative testimony, and targeted outreach to lawmakers, IRG explained how a teacher apprenticeship program could benefit teachers, families, students, and the state overall.

IRG Action Executive Vice President, Chris Reader added:

“We applaud the legislature for taking the teacher shortage in Wisconsin seriously. Teachers with more hands-on experience, greater connection to their communities, and less debt are more likely to stay in the profession. Teacher apprenticeships increase quantity, quality, stability, and diversity of teachers and AB 1005 will make high-quality teacher apprenticeships possible in our state.”

Wisconsin Could Join Growing List of States Enacting Teacher Apprenticeship Programs

According to IRG, 30 other states have already enacted this bipartisan solution to the teacher shortage. Wisconsin could be next as SB 917 now heads to Governor Evers’ desk.

Policy Issues: K-12 Education
Organization: State Policy Network