South Dakota is the seventeenth-largest state in the US, but its population is approximately 870,000, with its two largest cities being Sioux Falls (app. 183,000) and Rapid City (app. 67,000).
Approximately 130,000 students are within 150 public school districts that employ approximately 9,400 teachers (nearly 1400 are middle/secondary), placing it as the state with the fifth least number of teachers. Considerable teaching shortages affect the state, whose population includes a significant Native American community and many residents living in small or rural areas.
For decades South Dakota has ranked last in teacher pay, but in 2016 an initiative to raise salaries resulted in a new ranking of fourth from the bottom. Various problems and inequities with financial distributions and still-low wages continue to deter prospective educators and discourage beginning ones.
Such difficulties in part deter South Dakota from having statewide policies specifically supporting writing, although all state high schools allow students to enroll in university English courses (composition, Creative Writing, etc.) for dual-credit online or face-to-face classes in the academic centers located in Pierre, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls.
The South Dakota Council of Teachers of English (SDCTE) has approximately 100 members, and writing, along with other ELA skills and topics, is prevalent and promoted on its Internet offerings and annual conference.
The University of South Dakota (along with the state’s other universities) offers a writing center to assist its students with all writing aspects, and various camps and other activities focusing or featuring writing for middle and high school students are offered on university campuses during the summer.
Still, although policies specifically supporting writing are not currently offered at the state level, it is presumed all ELA educators strive for its excellence in their classrooms.