Retaining Teachers in South Dakota Indian Country

Over the past several years, RMC Research has worked with staff from the WoLakota Project to lend technical support to document program impact. The WoLakota Project aims to improve conditions in high-need schools that serve American Indian students by offering programming that supports teacher retention and increases cultural congruity through the infusion of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings (OSEU) standards. The OSEU standards were developed as a result of the 2007 Indian Education Act, a mandate from the state legislature that ordered the development of course content for curriculum and coursework in South Dakota American Indian history and culture. The standards address the culture, history, language, practices and lifestyles of the Oceti Sakowin, the indigenous people of the South Dakota region.
The WoLakota Project evolved from a project in South Dakota known as Courage to Teach, which was developed to support teacher implementation of OSEU standards and provide a support system for new teachers. Mentor teachers help participating teachers embed the OSEU standards into practice in conjunction with the Common Core State Standards. Mentors regularly communicate with participating teachers, and offer suggestions, resources, and advice about working with parents, addressing student behavior, and effective classroom management. Findings from a pilot evaluation of the project suggest that the program has a positive impact on teacher retention. For more information about the project visit the WoLakota website at: