Dora Jung, a secondary-education major at Black Hills State University, completes her classroom residency as the final step in earning her secondary-education degree. The University, which has a legacy of providing high-quality innovative teacher preparation, is moving forward with a model that will place secondary educators in the classrooms for a full year.
Black Hills State University, which has a legacy of providing high-quality innovative teacher preparation educational experiences, is expanding an initiative that increases the amount of time future teachers spend in public classrooms.  Already in place for elementary education students, BHSU is moving forward with a model that will place secondary educators in the classrooms for a full year rather than a half year.

In the three years that BHSU has had the full-year student teacher model for elementary education students, it has been very successful and, in fact, was one of the items highlighted in an favorable accreditation review last year.  Dr. Pat Simpson, dean of education at BHSU, noted that during the 2011 review of the BHSU teacher preparation program by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the University received high marks at the target level, exceeding the usual standards for its field experiences (student teacher model).  Overall, the BHSU program met or exceeded all NCATE standards and received no suggestions for improvement, which is highly unusual in the national accrediting processThe University is now moving toward the full-year model for secondary education students. The new model, discussed by the South Dakota Board of Regents last month, requires future teachers to take three years of coursework on campus followed by a full year of residency in a school setting. The 2012-13 year will serve as planning time for all five South Dakota state universities to work on this redesign. The goal is to achieve implementation of the new model within the parameters of the Board of Regents’ new standard of 120 credit hours for most bachelor-degree programs.  Simpson says full implementation is expected by the 2015-16 academic year.

According to Simpson, traditional models have required teacher-education candidates to spend only one semester student teaching. BHSU instituted the full-year model for elementary education after reviewing studies including the results of a Blue Ribbon Panel study on clinical practice and partnerships that found longer experiences with “school embedded practice” positively impact the learning of P-12 students and of future teachers by providing “coursework and clinical preparation woven together.”

During the first semester of the senior residency, the BHSU elementary education students concurrently enroll in “methods” courses while also participating in the residency. This allows the future teachers to immediately apply their coursework in the elementary-school classroom. The future teachers are in classrooms full time during the second semester of the residency.  As a result of spending a full year in schools with experienced teachers, they see what it’s like to start the school year, participate in parent-teacher conferences, and prepare for standardized tests in the spring.

BHSU has earned a stellar reputation for its teacher education program and every year nearly 200 students earn their education degrees from BHSU and become leaders in classrooms throughout the state and surrounding region.