BHSU history education graduate James Stith works with Sturgis Brown High School students
Black Hills State University history education graduate James Stith works with Sturgis Brown High School students during his student teaching experience. BHSU was recently notified that it has earned continuing accreditation, both meeting and exceeding the six standards areas, from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).  BHSU, one of the founding members of NCATE, has a legacy of preparing exceptional educators.

Black Hills State University was recently notified that it has earned continuing accreditation for its teacher preparation program following an extensive review by the premier national teacher education accrediting agency, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). BHSU earned the accreditation by meeting and exceeding the standards.

A reception celebrating this achievement will be held Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. in the Jacket Legacy Room of the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union. The community is invited to attend.

BHSU, which has a legacy of preparing exceptional educators throughout its 128 years, has been continuously accredited by NCATE since the accrediting agency’s inception in 1954. BHSU was one of the founding members of NCATE.

In making the announcement, James Cibulka, president of NCATE, noted that the accreditation decision indicates that BHSU meets rigorous standards set forth by the professional education community.  Cibulka added that “special congratulations are in order because the Unit Accreditation Board cited no areas for improvement relative to any of the standards.”

BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp says the high praise in the accreditation report is a testament to the high-quality, innovative academic programs and the dedicated faculty and staff members at BHSU.

“Our accreditation report notes that BHSU meets and exceeds all standards set by the accreditation agency. Achieving this high honor truly demonstrates that the outstanding teacher preparation program at Black Hills State University is accomplishing its goals and preparing exceptional teachers,” Schallenkamp says. “I’m very proud of the faculty, staff, and students.”

NCATE’s performance-based system of accreditation fosters the development of competent classroom teachers and other educators who work to improve the education of all preschool through 12th grade students. Institutions must provide evidence that teacher education candidates possess the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively teach diverse learners and to have an impact on student learning. Teacher candidates must know and understand the subject matter they plan to teach and be able to teach effectively so that all students learn. The U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the South Dakota Department of Education recognize NCATE as a professional accrediting body for teacher preparation.

Simpson noted that the four-year process included effort from many committed partners.

“This was truly a collaborative effort. Without our committed partners, the accreditation would not have moved forward. We are fortunate to have ongoing successful partnerships with local school districts, the South Dakota Department of Education, students, University administration, faculty, and staff.”

Simpson added that it is rare to exceed the six standards areas (candidate knowledge and skills, assessment systems, field experiences, diversity, faculty qualifications, and governance) and not have any items noted for improvement.

“Earning a 100 percent is remarkable and we were especially pleased with the comments provided by the NCATE,” Simpson said.

Following are some comments from the report on each of the standards: 

  • Standard I – Candidate Knowledge and Skills: “Cooperation between faculty in all colleges can be seen in continuing PRAXIS II test scores at the 100 percent level as well as in joint strategic planning, initiatives in secondary programs, and methods classes.”
  • Standard II – Assessment System: “The unit created a structure to enhance the direct involvement of its faculty members, faculty and administrators from all three colleges, and members of the professional community in the assessment process.”
  • Standard III – Field Experiences:  “Recent developments include enhanced field experience governance and collaboration, placements in diverse settings…and increased monitoring of program transition points.”
  • Standard IV – Diversity: “The unit has worked diligently to provide multicultural activities on its campus…and has selected Professional Development Schools (PDS) sites carefully in order to ensure candidates are exposed to diverse socioeconomic and ethnic populations.”
  • Standard V – Faculty Qualifications:  “Interviews and examination of electronic artifacts reveal the professional education faculty in the unit is well qualified for teaching assignments and other responsibilities.”
  • Standard VI – Governance: “Library and educational technology facilities and services are strong and support candidates’ use of instructional media and web-based technologies…Several collaborative grants have been funded to support the work of the unit.”

BHSU offers bachelor of science in education degrees in early childhood special education, elementary education, several areas of K-12 education, as well as many secondary education degrees.  Graduate programs are offered for a master of education degree in reading and a master of science degree in curriculum and instruction. For more information about BHSU teacher education programs visit the website at www.BHSU.edu/Education.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a specialized accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education. More information about NCATE is available at www.ncate.org.