South Dakota’s four technical institutes have a retention rate of 78 percent, according to the system’s 2019 retention report received by the Board of Technical Education during a meeting in Pierre, Dec. 3.

In a release, the Board stated the retention rate measures those students who enroll at an institution one fall and return to the same institution the following fall.

Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell has an 84 percent retention rate, Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown 83%, Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls 72%, and Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City 70%. All four institutions have a rate far higher than the national average among public two-year colleges, which sits at 62%, according to Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

“Retention is an effective way to measure the health of an institution, because it reflects students who enroll and have a positive enough experience that they choose to return,” said Nick Wendell, executive director of the Board of Technical Education.

“Our institutions have continued to focus on student success, both inside and outside the classroom. Strong retention rates lead to strong graduation rates, and both numbers lead to more skilled professionals entering the South Dakota workforce,” said Dana Dykhouse, chair of the Board of Technical Education.

During the meeting, the board approved an expansion for Lake Area Technical Institute’s Practical Nursing and Registered Nursing programs. The programs will be offered through the Capital University Center in Pierre starting the fall of 2020.

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