Rapid City - Education & Training
Rapid City is an educational and training hub for the Black Hills region. With the second largest school district in the state, it is also home to the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T), University Center (a shared facility for various South Dakota regental institutions), a campus of Ogalala Lakota College (OLC), National American University (NAU), United Tribes Technical College-Black Hills Learning Center (UTTC) and Western Dakota Tech (WDTI). To read more about education in Rapid City, click here.
Find more useful resources and links for students, parents, teachers, librarians, and trustees.
Rapid City is on the verge of implementing a pilot pre-kindergarten program. After years of debate over the merits of pre-k education in South Dakota, organizers in Sioux Falls ran a three-year pilot program from 2007-2010, which was funded through the governor’s economic development fund, the United Away and Forward Sioux Falls. Results of the program point to significant gains in literacy, spelling and language skills.
The Rapid City task force will use those results this year to garner public support to kick off a similar pilot in Rapid City. A matching three-year grant from the John T. Vucurevich Foundation will serve as the backbone for funding, and organizers hope to raise the matching funds through local businesses and individuals.
The Starting Strong initiative, planned for the fall of 2012, hopes to enlist 50 families to participate in the pilot program. The tuition will be paid for through donations, and will be sent directly to local volunteer providers offer the program. Those providers will have to meet guidelines set by the task force.
In the fall of 2010, 13,280 students were enrolled in Rapid City Area Schools, including 6,347 in elementary, 3,009 in middle school and 4,008 in high school. With 23 schools and approximately 1030 teachers, the district is the second largest in South Dakota. Approximately 19 percent of all students are of American Indian descent. More than a third of the district’s students meet the federal poverty guidelines for free and reduced lunches. To see how students performed on the state’s 2010 Dakota STEP test, see the No Child Left Behind Report Card here: For information on the district’s plan for increasing student achievement, see the District Improvement Plan.
The Rapid City school distract, like every district in the state, is coping with a 6.6 percent cut to state funding approved by the South Dakota Legislature earlier this year. District officials held budget hearings to give the public an opportunity for input into a long-term budget process that will more than likely involve cuts. View our 2012-2013 Budget Process Resource page for documents and news articles relating to this budget process, including the dates, times, and locations of the Citizen Forums.
Despite the challenges, Rapid City school district officials point to recently-released statewide test scores that enabled three elementary schools to drop off the No Child Left Behind federal improvement list. Eight of the district’s schools remain on the list. One elementary school was added this year.
The state mandated Dakota STEP test tracks the performance of students by grade and student characteristics, including race, disability or limited English proficiency. Several of the subgroups made improvements in math and reading. Overall, 54 percent of the students were proficient in math, down from 57 percent last year. Reading scores for the district remained flat with 50 percent of the students proficient.
The Dakota STEP determines whether or not the district is making adequate yearly progress (AYP) in reading and math. According the State of South Dakota's report card, Rapid City elementary, middle, and high school students achieved AYP overall in the spring of 2011, though several subcategories of students did not achieve AYP.
In elementary school testing, neither Native American students nor economically disadvantaged students achieved AYP in reading. Students with disabilities did not achieve AYP in either reading or math. In middle school testing, both Native American students and economically disadvantaged students failed to achieve AYP in reading or math. Hispanic middle schoolers did not make AYP in reading. All categories of students made AYP in Rapid City's high schools except for students with disabilities. Economically disadvantaged high schoolers also failed to make AYP in math.
Rapid City's high school graduation rate was 81.7 percent in 2011, a drop from the 84.3 percent rate posted in 2010 and below the statewide average of 83.3 percent.
During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Rapid City Area Schools' fall enrollment was 13,280 in grades K-12. With a 3.8 percent dropout rate, the district graduated 683 students. Five hundred and seventy-eight students took the ACT exam. The average composite score was 22.1. To compare Rapid City ACT scores with other Black Hills districts, click here.To view a statistical profile of funding, student and staff data, see the South Dakota Department of Education's 2010-2011 profile of the Rapid City Area School District on page 223.
The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has developed a State Teacher Policy Yearbook which provides a detailed examination of state laws, rules and regulations that govern the teaching profession for 50 states and the District of Columbia. The yearbook goals are focused on helping states put in place a comprehensive policy frameworked in support of preparing, retaining and rewarding effective teachers. Read how South Dakota ranks compared to other states.
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) is the only autonomous public university in Rapid City. The school bills itself as the region’s top tech and engineering school. The South Dakota Board of Regents also operates the University Center where students can take courses offered a number of other state schools
Public universities in the state have faced the same financial challenges K-12 schools have faced in the wake of state budget cuts. The universities trimmed a combined $8.5 million from their 2011-2012 budgets. Despite these cuts, the School of Mines continues to draw students who officials say benefit from high job placement rates and competitive salaries after graduating from the university.
SDSM&T was recently designated as one of the U.S.’s “Top 10 State Universities by Salary Potential,” according to a compensation data report by PayScale. Graduates ranked fourth for their starting median salary of $56,700 and tenth for mid-career median salary of $96,300, according to the Board of Regents.
National American University, a private, for-profit institution, attracts a high number of non-traditional students who take advantage of the school’s business and information technology curriculum, as well as popular nursing, veterinary technology and paralegal studies programs. The Rapid City university location has been in western South Dakota since 1941 and is one of more than two dozen NAU locations in the U.S.. The corporate offices for NAU are also located in Rapid City. The Rapid City campus is currently located in downtown Rapid City, but officials announced last year plans to sell that property and build at a new location in Rapid City. That location has not been announced.
Population 25 years and over with a Bachelor's degree or higher attainment;
2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates
When the economy took a nose dive two years ago, career and technical institutes were one of the few entities to benefit from the downturn. Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City was no exception. With the loss of jobs, pay freezes and an uncertain economic future, WDTI focused on its greatest strength – job placement.
According to a report released last year, WDT boasted a 94 percent placement rate in employment or continued education for 2009-2010 graduates. WDT has seen enrollment surges every quarter since 2009. The state’s four technical institutes saw a 14 percent increase in enrollment over the past five years.
WDTI officials have also worked to forge a stronger relationship with the Rapid City Area Schools district, which serves as the governing arm of the technical institute. The issue of governance has surfaced several times during the last decade, with some educational leaders asking why CTE (Career and Technical Education) is governed by local K-12 boards of education. Officials at WDT have been included in those discussions. Some advocates for a centralized CTE board have said that the current governance structure means the CTE programs do not have the same authority or lobbying power for state and federal dollars as other institutions.
Rapid City residents can learn to cha-cha, tie a fly or master the ins and outs of automotive care through community education classes. Classes are offered through satellite programs in communities all over the Black Hills, but the program is run from the Career Learning Center (CLC) in Rapid City. Hundreds of local residents take advantage of Community Education classes each year. Residents interested in continuing education can also take advantage of a GED program offered through CLC.
- Community Education - Community Education of the Black Hills covers a huge region with classes in every community in the Black Hills including Belle Fourche, Custer, Deadwood, Edgemont, Hill City, Hot Springs, Lead, Rapid City, Spearfish, and Sturgis.
- GED 2014 - Currently the only place in Rapid City to get help with GED or take the tests
Compare education attainment levels for Pennington County, State of South Dakota and United States. Data found at 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates at www.census.gov (Data Tab: American FactFinder)
Education and Training resources and links.