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SD Teacher Grads: Majority Don’t Teach in SD; 73.3% Who Do Stick with It

Low pay-schmo pay! Teachers love working in South Dakota!

So contends Board of Regents chief Jack Warner in today's Sioux Falls paper. Compared to a national five-year new teacher attrition rate of 40% to 50%, almost three quarters of South Dakota Regental system graduates who go go to work in South Dakota's K-12 system stick with teaching for at least five years:

“That’s a very good news story for South Dakota,” said Jack Warner, executive director of the state Board of Regents. “It does demonstrate that teachers in South Dakota seem more essentially satisfied with the nature of their work than might occur in other places.”

Regents data found that 4,013 students completed a bachelor’s degree at one of the five public universities that offer education programs from fiscal years 2002 and 2010. Nine out of 10 of those graduates who went to work in a South Dakota school district returned to their district the following year. And after five years, 73.3 percent still were at those schools [Steve Young, "S.D. Does Better than Most States in Retaining Young Teachers," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.11.11].

Notice that that 73.3% retention is only among those teacher education graduates who choose to stay in South Dakota in the first place. The Regents' FY2013 Fact Book, from which the above placement data comes, notes that of 4,013 teacher education graduates from the Regental system from FY2002 to FY2010, 47.9% were placed in a South Dakota school district.

In other words, a majority of South Dakota's teacher education graduates, 52.1% choose to leave teaching or leave the state right away.

The FY2013 Fact Book notes that South Dakota natives have a better in-state teacher placement rate: 58.1%. But read that one the other way: even among the teacher education graduates who grow up in South Dakota and do university here, more than four in ten choose not to go to work in a South Dakota classroom.

So to claim that South Dakota does a better job of retaining new teachers perhaps misreads the Regents' data. That 73.3% stick-to-it-iveness resides in a self-selected group where a lot of rational actors have already sought better markets.


  1. Stan Gibilisco 2013.11.11

    You could let the free market have its way, Cory, and vote with your feet.

    Wyoming pays far better and they're right next door. Ditto Minnesota.

    Nuff people split, and results may follow.

  2. PlanningStudent 2013.11.11

    For what it's worth, I think its important to remember the market for teachers in South Dakota could never support all of the teachers our universities graduate. In the same vein is this surplus of teachers being graduated each year partly responsible for keeping teacher pay low.. Supply & demand..

  3. Steve O'Brien 2013.11.12

    When slaves didn't escape the plantation, they were "happy?"

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.12

    That's harsh, Steve... but appropriate.

    PS, what's the motivation for the Regents to turn out more graduates than the local market can handle? Simple recruitment and tuition boost? Are scholarships incentivizing education grads to stay in South Dakota redundant if we can always count on more grads than our K-12 system can hire?

  5. PlanningStudent 2013.11.12

    Good question.... Is there motivation at all, is this by design? I think the BOR simply throws money at programs that people seem to be interested in. If people continue to enroll in a program that is profitable because of low overhead, the BOR will allow the program to grow without regard to the job market for that particular degree. At USD, where I went so that's my reference point, Dental Hygiene could / should be allowed to expand to take in more students based on interest from students, but it's an expensive program because of the hardware needed for teaching, the program anguishes.. Teaching however, is at how many of the state universities? Low overheard, don't need expensive equipment to educate teachers. We could be much more cynical about this and assume the BOR is very much aware of the job market for teachers and over produces them to keep the cost of labor (wages) down for teachers in SD. My reply the cynical view would be, the BOR simply does a bad job of looking at the job market for most if not all of their degrees and it would be a bit much to assume they are smart enough to purposely over produce teachers.

  6. interested party 2013.11.12

    66 counties: how conservative.

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