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Project Title:Black Hills State University’s Secondary Certification Program: Project SELECTInstitution Name:Black Hills State University Innovation Category:Teacher Education Project Director:Len Austin, Chair of Secondary Education and Certification Programs, or Nancy Hall, Dean of the College of EducationContact Information:Austin: (605) 642-6329 or Len.Austin@bhsu.edu; Hall: (605) 6452-6551 or Nancy.Hall@bhsu.edu, Website:http://www.BHSU.edu/SELECT
Project Description:Project SELECT is an innovative program dedicated to excellence in teacher preparation at the secondary level, with certification as its final outcome. Black Hills State University’s College of Education in South Dakota began offering this program with the first cohort in the fall of 2004. Project SELECT meets the needs of individuals who have been in the workforce in other professions and now desire to teach. From its inception, this program was designed to contribute to school improvement initiatives in high-needs schools. The program has been particularly successful in attracting high-quality candidates in mathematics and science.

Project SELECT prepares highly qualified teachers who have a special commitment to working with Native American students in the Rapid City Area School District. Unique program elements include:

  • Writing lesson plans that address the school improvement plans to improve literacy skills and teach reading across the core curriculum.
  • Integrating experiences to increase knowledge of Lakota culture in a nearby Indian reservation where students have strong ties. 
  • Using reflection clinics with teachers-in-training, BHSU faculty, and secondary teachers to improve student learning.

Evidence of Program Effectiveness:

  • Student Achievement: The Project SELECT interns, BHSU faculty, and school administrators and staff have made a difference in Native American students’ reading achievement, as evidenced by the Dakota State Test of Educational Progress (Dakota STEP) scores.
  • Program Completers: Annually, 30-40% of the Project SELECT completers choose to teach in high-needs schools.
  • Preparation of Teachers in Shortage Areas: 43% of the Project SELECT completers are certified in mathematics or science education.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:An initial challenge was to establish an annual pool of highly qualified candidates with content degrees in teaching fields. Many inquiries are received from candidates with degrees in fields such as psychology, religious studies, and philosophy which are not teaching majors in South Dakota public schools. Partnerships have been formed which now provide a steady stream of excellent applicants such as the Department of Labor, Troops to Teachers, Teach for America, another South Dakota Board of Regents institution that prepares engineers, and our own Arts and Sciences college.
Evaluation Approach:School district achievement data are used to examine growth toward school improvement goals and are available through the school district administration and the South Dakota Department of Education. Program completers are tracked for placement in high-needs schools through the U.S. Department of Education Transition to Teaching grant scholarship requirements.
Potential for Replication:The innovation requires a long-term collaboration and commitment between partners to the preparation of teachers and the implementation of school improvement plans. Enrollment of midcareer professionals is strongest when financial resources are available to support their one-year residency.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Kay Schallenkamp , Presidentkay.schallenkamp@bhsu.edu
(605) 642-6111
Date Published: Friday, July 8, 2011