The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce. This goal was reorganized in 2021.
Minimum Standards of Performance: South Dakota does not set minimum standards of performance for the categories of data that programs must report. Educator preparation program providers "shall conduct follow-up studies and surveys to determine whether its graduates
are employed in educational institutions. The follow-up studies shall address
performance in the classroom or areas of professional service in schools and be
specific to the education programs the graduates completed." However, the state does not set minimum standards of performance for these data.
Program Accountability: Although South Dakota does not set minimum standards of performance, South Dakota does delineate
consequences, including denial of accreditation. Institutions with any standards designated as "significant areas of improvement" are put on conditional approval. Institutions with any standards designated as "not met" are given probationary approval.
State Report Cards: South Dakota does not produce and publish an annual report card that shows all the data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs.
Program Approval Process: South Dakota allows overlap of national accreditation and state approval. The state allows educator preparation programs the option of obtaining CAEP accreditation for initial or continuing program approval. Although the state's Board of Education Standards "shall make the final decision on state program approval," for those programs that opt for CAEP accreditation, CAEP accreditation is the sole requirement for continuing program approval.
Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
South Dakota should establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects to help clarify expectations regarding program quality.
Ensure program accountability decisions are based on minimum standards of performance.
While South Dakota has the structure of a program accountability system, including follow-up actions for programs failing to meet standards, it has not set minimum standards it can use to implement this accountability process. As South Dakota further develops its accountability system, it should ensure that the system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs, and that it is clear at what point a program's approval will be revoked. For programs exceeding minimum standards, South Dakota should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.
Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
South Dakota should produce an annual report card that clearly displays program-level data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs. This report card should be publicly available on the state's website, at a minimum. Data should be presented in a manner that transparently conveys whether programs have met performance standards.
Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs.
South Dakota should not cede any of its approval authority to another accrediting body; instead, the state should ensure that it is the entity that directly considers all the evidence of program performance and makes the final determination of whether programs should continue to be authorized to prepare teachers.
South Dakota did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
1D: Program Reporting Requirements
The state should examine a number of factors when measuring the performance of and approving teacher preparation programs. Although the quality of both the subject-matter preparation and professional sequence is crucial, there are also additional measures that can provide the state and the public with meaningful, readily understandable indicators of how well programs are doing when it comes to preparing teachers to be successful in the classroom.
States have made great strides in building data systems with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher performance. These same data systems can be used to link teacher effectiveness to the teacher preparation programs from which they came. States should make such data, as well as other objective measures that go beyond licensure test pass rates, central components of their teacher preparation program approval processes, and they should establish precise standards for performance that are more useful for accountability purposes.
National accrediting bodies, such as CAEP, are raising the bar, but are no substitute for states' own policy. A number of states now have somewhat more rigorous academic standards for admission by virtue of requiring that programs meet CAEP's accreditation standards. However, whether CAEP will uniformly uphold its standards (especially as they have already backtracked on the GPA requirement) and deny accreditation to programs that fall short of these admission requirements remains to be seen. Clear state policy would eliminate this uncertainty and send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations.