Recruit and Retain: The Future of Education

Teacher Certification in South Dakota

South Dakota teachers go through a rigorous process that involves student teaching and pedagogy assessment.

An initial teaching certificate is granted on the basis of having completed a bachelor's degree and teacher preparation program, passed assessments required for the teaching area, and completed minor state-specific requirements. The bachelor's degree is to come from a regionally accredited school. This is also the case with the qualifying educator preparation program.

Completion of an education program results in credentialing in one of the following overlapping grade bands: early childhood, elementary, middle level, secondary, or K-12. Subjects such as art, world language, and music are issued K-12, though there are provisions to allow elementary or secondary subject teachers to add special subject endorsement in their grade band. Special education endorsements may be issued at the K-12 level; there is also an early childhood special education credential.

Advanced certificates can be issued to a teacher with five years of experience who earns national certification or completes a graduate degree in an appropriate field.

South Dakota Teaching Endorsements

South Dakota issues many endorsements. By completing a single education preparation and the corresponding tests one may receive multiple endorsements. Completion of an elementary program can, for example, lead to endorsement for self-contained K-4 and 5-8 classrooms, as well as K-4 and 5-8 endorsements for each of the four core subjects (math, language arts, science, and social studies).

A teacher’s educational preparation determines which endorsements he or she can qualify for without completing additional teacher preparation. A teacher whose preparation was at the secondary level, for example, would need elementary preparation to add endorsement for self-contained K-4 or core academic subjects at the K-4 level. The Department of Education has provided detailed instructions about adding endorsements (

Some endorsements may be added through assessment alone. The teacher may need to take just a subject assessment or a subject assessment and pedagogy assessment. South Dakota teachers typically take pedagogy assessments when adding endorsements that are not considered to be covered by preparation, but the requirement may be waived on the basis of teaching experience in the grade band covered by the new endorsement.

Teachers should be aware that there will be some changes to the endorsement process in 2019.

Assessment Requirements

South Dakota uses tests by Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Prospective teachers can expect to take a pedagogy assessment. Some individuals will take the PPAT, a rigorous portfolio-based performance assessment. The PPAT is offered in specific testing windows; ETS notes these are designed to align with student teaching timeframes. A PPAT candidate will register through ETS has a special registration page for the PPAT applicants are asked to select their program from a list provided.

The pedagogy requirement may be met through completion of the Practices for Teaching Content: Elementary Education assessment or a Principles of Learning and Teaching test at the appropriate level. The Practices for Teaching Content: Elementary Education test is a new simulation-based assessment ( Educator preparation programs are a resource with regard to what test to take.

An individual will generally need to take one or more subject tests ( ETS has provided a list of South Dakota assessments and minimum passing scores.

Alternative Preliminary Certification

Alternative academic certification is designed to place individuals in academic teaching positions when fully qualified teachers cannot be found.

Alternative certification is not granted at the K-4 level unless a person is going through Teach for America. Alternative certification is designed for difficult-to-fill positions. (Beginning in 2019, employers utilizing Teach for America or the alternative academic certification process will need to document their attempts to find a fully credentialed teacher.)

A teacher who pursues certification through the alternative general pathway or Teach for America will ultimately need to complete 15 semester hours of academic coursework.

A teacher who receives initial credentialing through a South Dakota alternative pathway can achieve a standard certificate after program requirements have been met; the standard certificate will note alternative as the type of preparation.

State Specific Requirements

South Dakota has some state specific requirements. A South Dakota teacher will need a course in Indian studies.

He or she will also need to complete a very brief training in suicide awareness and prevention. The Department of Education has provided a list of courses that meet this requirement (


Out-of-state licensees can be granted reciprocity in South Dakota provided certain basic requirements are met. Initial preparation may be alternative or traditional. If preparation was alternative, the program must be complete and the teacher must have had three years of experience within the prior five years.

A certified teacher who seeks reciprocity based on completion of an approved educator preparation program must have had student teaching or other field experience.

A provisional license may be issued to an out-of-state teacher who has not yet met the requirement for South Dakota studies.

The Application Process

Forms for out-of-state applicants are available from the Department of Education (

Applicants will need to submit transcripts.


South Dakota issues some special permits, for example, Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Native language and culture permits and performing arts permits.

Performing arts permits may be issued to professionals with five years of arts experience; they are issued when a school cannot hire a certified professional for an arts vacancy. An artist or performing artist credentialed in this manner may not have education at the bachelor’s level.

Additional Information

South Dakota teachers are licensed by the South Dakota Department of Education.

Certification can be reached by email at ‘certification at’.