USF Addresses Special Education Teacher Shortages in South Dakota

May 18, 2022,

It’s no secret that Special Education teachers are in short supply in South Dakota, and distance is no barrier with coursework developed at USF for a special pathway to certification.
“USF is committed to educators and to helping school districts fill their special education teacher vacancies across South Dakota,” said Dr. Kama Konda-Varilek, Director of Education Graduate Programs in USF’s Fredrikson School of Education.
New rules authorized by the South Dakota Department of Education in 2017 to address the state’s great need for SPED teachers led to USF quickly developing all necessary alternative certification coursework online for educators to sit for the state SPED certification exam. Typically a bachelor’s degree in SPED is required, which USF also offers.
Coursework begins June 1, 2022, and can be completed 100% online in just one year. It only takes 15 credits for currently certified teachers to earn this certification
This means that school districts throughout the state, from Rapid City to Pierre, Aberdeen, Watertown and rural districts can equally access and benefit from this alternative certification route and the coursework offered through USF.
“The coursework is not just theoretical or hypothetical,” said Kris Evje, Special Services Director and Middle School Principal for the Milbank School District, who is also an instructor for the USF coursework. “We are able to use real-life and real-time examples in the work to make it more meaningful and impactful, and that is a distinct advantage to students.”

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