The report card for South Dakota’s public schools shows that nearly three quarters of South Dakota students are either proficient or advanced in math, and that nearly 100 percent of students participate in math education, the highest level of any subject area in the state.
Located in Pierre, the state Department of Education is tasked with ensuring that would-be math teachers in the state meet the highest standards to qualify for certification. The Department entrusts the review process for teacher certification applications to its Division of Assessment and Accountability, the agency you will be dealing with as you complete certification procedures.
To become a certified math teacher in South Dakota, complete the following steps:
|Study for a Math Teaching Degree|
|Complete the South Dakota Math Teacher Testing Requirements|
|Apply for South Dakota Math Teacher Certification|
|Maintain and Develop Your Certification|
Step 1. Study for a Math Teaching Degree
New students just starting down the path to become a math teacher in South Dakota can begin by considering a bachelor’s degree program in the field of mathematics that leads to teaching eligibility within the state. This is the most direct way to become a math teacher for new students. The mathematics segment of this degree program will introduce you to the fundamental subjects in the field, such as:
- Linear algebra
- Statistics and probability
- Functions and relationships
- Discrete mathematics
An approved teacher education program will be included in your coursework if you are completing a mathematics bachelor’s degree that results in eligibility for South Dakota teaching certification. It is during this segment of your instruction that you will focus on pedagogy.
Your mathematics teacher preparation program will include courses like:
- Math teaching strategies
- Building on a mathematics foundation
- Ways to approach challenging subjects
- Question-based learning
- Mathematical pedagogy theory
- Lesson planning and development
- Student teaching
Due to differing circumstances, you may find yourself in the situation of already having a relevant bachelor’s degree or higher, but not one that included an approved teacher education program. In this case you will have several choices:
- Complete an approved educator preparation program in mathematics as part of a master’s degree or post-baccalaureate study
- Complete a math educator program that is approved by NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education)
- If you are an experienced and certified math teacher from out-of-state, you can submit a Verification of Teaching Experience form in lieu of completing an approved educator preparation program
Step 2. Complete the South Dakota Math Teacher Testing Requirements
Meeting the math teacher certification requirements in South Dakota means you will need to pass two exams, both administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS):
- Principles of Learning and Teaching
- Praxis II Mathematics Exam
Principles of Learning and Teaching
This exam will ensure you have the basic skills it takes to be an educator. It evaluates what you have learned thus far about teaching and pedagogy. The exam is offered in two versions according to grade, so you should take the one that most closely corresponds to your teaching goals:
The tests are in a similar format and cover similar material, which is tailored somewhat differently according to age groups. Details regarding both tests include:
- 2 hours allocated for completion
- 70 multiple-choice and 4 constructed response questions covering
- Process of instruction – district, state, and national standards of instruction; application of basic pedagogical theories
- Students as learners – theoretical foundations theory and history; topics covering the diversity of students based on race, culture, and socio-economic status
- Community leadership and professional development – awareness of current debates in pedagogical theory; awareness of current or pending legal decisions or laws that could affect the field
- Assessments – awareness of the different types of assessments as well as their strengths and weaknesses; awareness of the varied ways of interpreting assessment results
- Scenario analysis – application of these fundamental concepts in the field of education to hypothetical scenarios
Praxis II Mathematics Exam
This exam evaluates prospective math teachers on their knowledge of mathematics. This test is also offered according to the grade levels you will be teaching:
- Middle School: Mathematics, grades 5-8
- Study guide
- 120 minutes to complete 55 questions on the topics of:
- Algebra and arithmetic
- Data and geometry
- Mathematics: Content Knowledge, grades 7-12
- Study guide
- 150 minutes to complete 60 questions on the topics of:
- Algebra and functions
- Calculus and geometry
- Number and quantity
- Discrete mathematics
- Probability and statistics
Step 3. Apply for South Dakota Math Teacher Certification
If it is your first time applying for math teacher certification in South Dakota, you will need to complete the Online Initial Certification Application. If you have completed the requirements up to this point, your Initial Certification – once approved – will be valid for five years, expiring on July 1st. You can get a sense of what the application will entail by previewing a paper application for Initial Certification.
When filling out your application, make sure to mark one of the following as your area of endorsement:
- 2004 5-8 Middle Level Education – Mathematics
- 5800 7-12 Mathematics Education
South Dakota law requires all teachers to complete two additional courses before being allowed to teach in the classroom:
Upon receiving your teaching certification you will be ready to begin applying for math teaching jobs in South Dakota. The Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD) offers a comprehensive listing of math teacher employment opportunities across the state. To access this you will need to create an account with the ASBSD.
Step 4. Maintain and Develop Your Certification
During your first five years of teaching math, and every subsequent five-year period, you will need to complete at least six credits of continuing professional education. The form these credits must be in depends on your level of education.
If the highest education you have completed is a bachelor’s degree, you will need to earn three of these renewal credits from a college or university. The remaining three credits can be obtained from professional development education at workshops or through courses offered by the Department of Education. Note that professional development education is awarded at the rate of 15 contact hours as being equal to one credit.
One of the continuing education organizations the South Dakota Department of Education recognizes as providing approved courses for mathematics teachers is Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE).
If you have completed a master’s degree or higher you can earn your six renewal credits in any approved way you choose. This also holds true if you are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), a nationally recognized organization that promotes teaching excellence. Being NBPTS-certified means that you have completed a series of portfolio assessments that demonstrate a high level of teaching competence and professional behavior. You will also need to complete a series of testing assessments, all of which are managed through the NBPTS. If you are pursuing National Board Certification you will need to choose your route to such based on the age groups you teach:
If you teach in both these subject areas you can consider obtaining NBPTS in either age group.
Joining a professional organization of your colleagues who are involved in the math teaching community is a good way of keeping up with the latest news and opportunities pertaining to your field in South Dakota. This includes resources about continuing education and conferences as well as job opportunities.
Local state organizations include:
- South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (SDCTM) – The SDCTM is dedicated to improving the understanding of mathematics throughout the state. It does this by advancing five main goals:
- Encouraging state residents to maintain an active interest in, and appreciation of mathematics
- Promoting the professional growth of mathematics teachers
- Providing a forum for a discussion of ideas relating to the teaching of mathematics
- Promoting a well-rounded and cooperative subject approach to the study of mathematics
- Relating math to every-day life
- South Dakota Education Association – An affiliate of the National Education Association, this organization provides useful resources for all teachers in the state, and currently identifies math teachers as being in short supply in the state’s overall job market.
- South Dakota Science Teacher’s Association (SDSTA) – Despite the SDSTA’s name, this is one of the main advocates of mathematics in the state, alongside science as an important and related subject. This organization influences math curriculum development in South Dakota, such as how to allocate a recent $270,000 federal grant to South Dakota for the improvement of science and math education.