How to Become a Physical Education Teacher in South Dakota

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The path to PE teacher certification in South Dakota starts with a college education and proceeds through the following steps:

Earn at Least a Bachelor’s Degree and Complete an Education Program
Pass the Required Tests
Apply for Your South Dakota PE Teacher Certification
Maintain and Renew Your South Dakota PE Teacher Certification

The South Dakota Department of Education is responsible for ensuring the state’s PE teachers are well qualified and of the highest caliber. Its Division of Assessment and Accountability is specifically responsible for overseeing the accreditation and certification of all PE teachers in the state. Candidates who want to become certified PE teachers in South Dakota will need to submit their applications to this agency’s Certification Office in Pierre.



Step 1. Earn at Least a Bachelor’s Degree in a Major Related to Physical Education

The most direct route to becoming a certified PE teacher involves completing a PE teaching bachelor’s program at one of the state’s universities or colleges. These programs are comprised of four key elements:

  • Courses that develop a strong knowledge in the field of PE
  • Required pedagogical courses
  • Required student teaching experience
  • At least a bachelor’s degree

In all cases, you will need to meet these requirements in order to be eligible for PE teacher jobs in South Dakota.

These key elements can be obtained in a number of ways:

  • A bachelor’s degree in education with a major in PE
  • A bachelor’s degree in a PE-related field with additional pedagogical courses
  • A bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field plus courses in both pedagogy and PE (Alternate Teaching Certificate)
  • A master’s degree plus courses that fulfill the pedagogical requirements and PE coverage

Relevant courses in a PE teacher education program will include:

  • First aid and CPR
  • Fundamentals of physical education
  • Curriculum development and evaluation
  • Kinesiology
  • Psychology
  • Fundamentals of education
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Motor learning

Education programs are important for developing essential pedagogical skills you will need to be an effective PE teacher. The student teaching portion of an education program straddles pedagogical courses and teaching in the classroom. This will prepare you to make the transition from being a student in a classroom to physical education teacher jobs in South Dakota.

Student teaching takes place towards the end of your education program, and during this time you will be assigned to a school where you will start by observing and assisting an experienced PE teacher, and gradually move in to a more responsible role as a PE teacher. You will be evaluated on your skills in lesson planning, classroom involvement, and teaching.

Because the student teaching segment of the education program is so important, completing this can take up the majority of your credit load for most of an academic year. Student teaching will include:

  • Curriculum development and collaboration
  • Student interaction and supervision
  • Assisting the lead PE teacher with games and activities
  • Responding to constructive feedback
  • Taking a leadership position within the PE classroom environment
  • Working with students from a variety of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds
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Step 2. Pass the Required Tests

The company Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the tests you will need to take to become a physical education teacher in South Dakota. These are divided into two sections:

  • Principles of Learning Test
  • Praxis II Test

The Principles of Learning Test is a general pedagogical skills test all prospective South Dakota teachers must pass. The Praxis II Test is designed to evaluate your specific knowledge in the area of physical education.

Principles of Learning Test

For this evaluation you will need to take the Principles of Learning and Teaching that most closely corresponds to the PE student level you will be teaching:

This multiple-choice test will evaluate your basic abilities in pedagogy and teaching. It will include these five components:

  • Students as learners – 22.5%
  • Instructional process – 22.5%
  • Assessment and how to choose the right kind of evaluation – 15%
  • Leadership, community, and professional development – 15%
  • Analysis of scenario responses – 25%

Praxis II Test

You will need to take the K-12 Physical Education Praxis II Test, which will add the PE major to your teaching certification. You must obtain a score of 140 to pass this exam, which is offered in both a paper or computer format:

  • Physical Education: Content Knowledge – paper test 0091
  • Physical Education: Content Knowledge – computer test 5091

ETS offers a study guide for the PE Content Knowledge test, which is organized as follows:

  • 120 multiple-choice questions to be completed in two hours
  • Student growth and development, content knowledge – 30%
  • Communication, management, and motivation – 25%
  • Student assessment, planning, and instruction – 25%
  • Reflection, technology, and collaboration – 20%



Step 3. Apply for Your South Dakota PE Teacher Certification

The South Dakota Department of Education, Certification Office in Pierre is responsible for processing teaching certification applications. Initial Certification Applications can be submitted in paper form as well as online, however, if it is your first time applying you will need to do so online. There are two options for an Initial Certification:

  • One-Year Certificate if you have completed a teacher education program
  • Five-Year Certificate if you have completed a teacher education program plus:
    • Praxis II Test in Physical Education
    • Six transcript credits in the previous five years

Along with your certification application, you will also need to include:

  • A copy of your Praxis II PE scores
  • A university sign-off form that you have completed an approved teaching education program
  • Verification form that you have completed the required segment of student teaching

Once you have become certified you will also need to complete two additional courses:

Alternate Teaching Certificate – Alternate Certification is available if you have taken a non-traditional path towards becoming a teacher. This could be because:

  • You completed an unrelated degree program
  • You realized you wanted to become a South Dakota PE teacher later on in life
  • It has been some time since you earned your degree
  • You participated in a program such as:
    • Teach for America
    • Troops to Teachers
    • Northern Plains Transition to Teaching (NPTT)

To be eligible for the Alternate Teaching Certificate you will need to meet several requirements:

  • Have already received an offer of employment from a school
  • Have passed the Praxis II Test in PE
  • Have not attended college or university for at least two years

As part of the Alternate Certification program you will complete a pedagogical program with a designated mentor. You may not teach in an elementary school with an Alternate Teaching Certificate. This certificate is valid for three years and may then be renewed.



Step 4. Maintain and Renew Your South Dakota PE Teacher Certification

South Dakota teaching certificates are valid until July 1st in the year they expire. Renewing your PE teaching certificate means you will need to have earned six credits of relevant education, with a distinction made between transcript credits and continuing education contact hours.

The exact type of credit requirement for renewal depends on the highest degree you have earned and can also be affected by your optional standing with the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards. Credit requirements are as follows:

  • With a bachelor’s degree, PE teachers will need at least three official transcript credits and the remaining three may be contact hours from professional conferences and other related activities.
  • With a master’s degree, more advanced degree, or National Board Certification, PE teachers can obtain their six credits for renewal through both college courses and professional development.

As far as the length of validity for a renewed PE teaching certificate, there are three options:

  • One-Year Renewal is basically an extension on your current certificate if you have not yet met the renewal requirements
  • Five-Year Renewal is the standard option if you have met the renewal requirements
  • Ten-Year Renewal is the standard option if you have a master’s degree or higher (with National Board Certification you may be eligible for a ten-year renewal)

National Board Certification – Many PE teachers across the country choose to become certified by the National Board of Education. Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) demonstrates that you have made a prolonged commitment to developing teaching excellence. To gain certification, you will need to go through an extensive process that involves an evaluation of four key areas:

  • Written assessment of your PE content knowledge
  • Evaluation of student work samples
  • Video analysis of you teaching your PE class
  • Documented impacts and accomplishments you have made in your PE class

The NBPTS maintains two certificate programs for PE teachers:

Phys Ed Teacher Salary in South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation reports an average annual physical education teacher salary in South Dakota of $55,868. The median is just 10% lower at $50,278. The bottom bracket of wages, which is generally attributed to entry-level salaries, ranges between $34,840 and $42,788. At the top bracket of wages, which is generally attributed to experienced personnel, physical education teachers were found to earn between $65,128 and $88,428.

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Salaries were actually higher in the East Statistical Area than statewide. This area includes the counties of Beadle, Bon Homme, Brookings, Brown, Clark, Clay, Codington, Davison, Day, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Hanson, Hutchinson, Kingsbury, Lake, Marshall, Miner, Moody, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, Union, and Yankton. The area also includes the towns of Aberdeen and Watertown. There, the following salaries of physical education teachers included:

10th Percentile: $41,380
25th Percentile: $45,769
Median: $56,064
75th Percentile: $78,721
90th Percentile: $100,587
Further physical education salary information in South Dakota:

Area name
Annual median wage
Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area

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