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How to Get a Teaching License in Rhode Island

Find out your options for getting a teaching license in Rhode Island with this helpful guide.

Requirements

Rhode Island prioritizes public school education. The state ranks fourth among U.S. states in average per student expenditure, according to a report by the National Education Association (NEA). By making a financial commitment to education, the state is making an investment in the future. With generous allowances per student, school districts can provide the resources that enable educators to explore options for teaching effectively. With a teaching license in Rhode Island you’ll enjoy the benefits of working in a supportive educational environment.

The traditional route to Rhode Island teacher certification is to earn a bachelor’s degree from a state-approved college or university and a Rhode Island Approved Educator Preparation Program. As a graduate of an approved program you are eligible for Rhode Island certification upon completion of the program and required assessments. Your application for an Initial Certificate must be submitted within five years from the completion of your educator preparation program.

An Initial Certificate is valid for three years. It allows you to work in any Rhode Island public school, charter school, state-funded pre-kindergarten program or state-approved special education program. After three years of teaching under an Initial Certificate, you can progress to a five-year Professional Educator Certificate if you earn three evaluation ratings that indicate effective practice and one rating that shows “developing” or higher.

If you are working in a teaching position but have fewer than three evaluation ratings, you can receive subsequent one-year extensions to accumulate three ratings. If you did not work during the valid period of your Initial Certificate or did not earn any evaluation ratings, you can receive another three-year Initial Certificate.

The Advanced Educator Certificate is the highest level of teacher certification in Rhode Island. Requirements for this certificate include five years experience as a Rhode Island educator under a Professional Certificate and at least four “highly effective” ratings on the state-approved educator evaluation with no ratings below “effective” during the term of the Professional Certificate.

Minimum Education Requirements for Rhode Island Teachers

The minimum education requirement for Rhode Island teachers is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Initial Certificate candidates also must complete a Rhode Island Approved Educator Certification Program and meet all other certification requirements. Individual undergraduate candidates must have at least a 2.75 undergraduate GPA. If you have not completed an educator certification program but have accomplished coursework comparable to that which is included in a program, you may qualify for certification by Credential Review.

Student Teaching

All teacher certification candidates in Rhode Island must complete at least 60 hours of field experience prior to student teaching. The student teaching experience must last at least 12 weeks. Your field experiences and student teaching are completed as part of an approved teacher education program. When you are adding a new certification area to an existing Rhode Island certificate, your field experience must reflect the new certification area.

Your educator preparation program will apply for a Student Teacher Permit from the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) so that it is completed at least 90 days before the start of your student teaching assignment. A student permit is valid for an academic term.

Pass Rhode Island Certification Exams

You must pass Rhode Island certification exams to earn an Initial Certificate. To achieve admission into an approved educator preparation program, you must take a basic skills assessment to determine your potential to succeed in the program. Beginning in the 2018-19 cohort year, program candidates can take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Assessments as an enrollment option comparable to the SAT or ACT. Individual candidates must meet or exceed RIDE-established minimum SAT, ACT or Praxis scores to gain full admittance to an approved educator preparation program.

At the conclusion of the program, you must pass the Praxis pedagogical and content area assessments that align with the certification you are pursuing.

Apply

You can apply for Rhode Island teacher certification by completing an application online or on paper, though online application submission is recommended. In addition to an application form, official transcripts must be received from every institution you attended. If your experience is a condition of certification, you must include a statement from your employer regarding the nature of your experience.

Electronic transcripts must be sent directly to RIDE from a registrar’s office or transcript service; paper transcripts must be mailed in a sealed envelope.

Though you must attest to your moral character and disclose any criminal history on the application form, a background check is not required as part of the certification application. However, your employing school district may require a state and federal background check as a condition of employment. Your certification application requires a non-refundable fee due at the time of your application.

How Much Do Teachers in Rhode Island Make?

Teachers in Rhode Island earn salaries determined by their education levels and years of professional experience. The demand for your specific area of certification or the budget of your employing school district also can affect the amount of money you earn as a teacher in Rhode Island. Some average teacher salaries in Rhode Island are listed here.

%

Job Growth for Teachers through 2026

Position Average Salary
Early Childhood Educator $33,920
Elementary School Teacher $66,160
Secondary School Teacher $65,490
Special Education Teacher $66,360
School Administrator $103,490
School Principal $92,510*
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics; *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Specialty Certifications

You can select from a wide range of Rhode Island specialty certifications that are defined by grade or content area at the Initial Certificate Level. Each specialty certification has a unique set of requirements and assessments necessary to qualify for certification. Some specialty areas can only be added as secondary endorsements to an existing certificate.

Early Childhood Education

type-preschoolYou can earn certification as an Early Childhood Education Teacher, Grades PK–2 in Rhode Island. This certificate authorizes you to teach students in the youngest classrooms. Requirements include completion of a bachelor’s degree and an approved early childhood educator preparation program. You can earn this certification as part of a bachelor’s degree educator preparation program or a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree program, depending on your education credentials. Admission to an educator preparation program requires fulfilling the admission requirement by qualifying scores on a basic skills assessment.

To earn an Initial Certificate after your teacher education program, you can choose from two programs of assessments. You can take the Praxis II Early Childhood Education pedagogy assessment and the Praxis II Education of Young Children content area assessment or you can choose the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 pedagogy exam and the Praxis II Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects content area assessments.

Elementary School Teacher

type-elementaryFor certification as an elementary school teacher in Rhode Island, you can earn an Elementary Education Teacher, Grades 1–6 license. To qualify for this certification, you must complete a bachelor’s degree from an approved elementary education educator preparation program. For an Initial Certificate, you can earn a bachelor’s degree as part of your educator preparation program or you can select a program that offers a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree. You must meet the qualifying scores on an approved basic skills assessment to qualify for admission to an educator preparation program.

To qualify for an Initial Certificate at the conclusion of your educator preparation program, you must take the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K–6 pedagogical assessment and the Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects content area assessment, including the sub-tests on Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science.

Secondary School Teacher

type-highschoolA secondary school teacher in Rhode Island must be certified in a content area for grades 7-12. If you are a traditional candidate, you need a bachelor’s degree with a major in or closely related to your certification area from a regionally accredited institution. You also must complete an approved educator preparation program in your area of certification. You can enroll in a teacher preparation program that awards a bachelor’s degree, post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree upon completion. Prior to enrolling, you must meet the basic skills requirement by qualifying scores on a basic skills assessment.

To qualify for an Initial Certificate after your teacher education program, you must pass the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 pedagogy exam and the Praxis II content area assessments that align with the subject you intend to teach.

Substitute Teacher Certification

type-substituteEffective January 1, 2017, RIDE does not issue substitute teacher permits.

The only requirement for a substitute teacher in Rhode Island is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. It is up to local education agencies to ensure that the substitute teachers they hire meet this requirement.

Physical Education (PE) Certification

type-physical-educationYou can earn All Grades Physical Education (PE) Teacher certification for grades Pre-K-12 in Rhode Island. A bachelor’s degree or higher with a major in physical education or a related degree from a regionally accredited college or university is required. You also must complete an approved physical education educator preparation program. Most Initial Certificate candidates earn a bachelor’s degree as part of an educator preparation program, however there are post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree programs if you qualify. To earn enrollment in an educator preparation program, you must meet qualifying scores on a basic skills assessment.

You can apply for an Initial Certificate after your teacher education program by passing the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching pedagogy assessment Grades K–6 or Grades 7–12, depending on the grade level you intend to teach. The Praxis II Physical Education: Content and Design specialty area assessment also is required.

Special Education Certification

type-special-educationRhode Island offers several Special Education certifications. Each certification relates to a specific type of disability. You can get Special Education Certification in Blind or Visually Impaired (Pre-K–12), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Pre-K–12), Early Childhood Special Education (Birth–2), Elementary/Middle Special Education (K–8), Middle/Secondary Special Education (7–12) or Severe Intellectual Disability (Pre-K–12). You must hold certification in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, any content area of Middle Grades Education or any content area of Secondary Grades Education before pursuing a Special Education certification.

All Special Education certifications also require a bachelor’s degree or higher and an approved special education educator preparation program in the certification area you desire. You must fulfill the program admission requirement by meeting the qualifying score on an approved basic skills assessment. An Initial Certificate in Special Education requires passing the Praxis II pedagogy and content area assessments, which vary by specialty area, for the certification you desire.

English as a Second Language Certification

type-tesolIf you enjoy working with people from diverse backgrounds, you can earn All Grades English as a Second Language (ESL) (Pre-K–12) certification in Rhode Island. This certification requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in an approved ESL teacher preparation program. You can earn your bachelor’s degree, a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree as part of a teacher preparation program. A minimum of 45 hours of practicum in this area also is required. Admission requires meeting the qualifying score of an approved basic skills assessment and having prior certification in any other All Grades content area.

To qualify for an Initial Certificate after meeting the education requirements, you must take the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K–6 or Grades 7–12 pedagogy exam that matches the grade level you intend to teach. The Praxis II English to Speakers of Other Languages content area assessment also is required.

Certifications for School Administrators

type-principalCertifications for school administrators in Rhode Island are offered for Building Level Administrator (Pre-K–12) or Superintendent of Schools. Qualifications include having an advanced degree in educational leadership or a related area from a regionally accredited institution and an approved educator preparation program in this subject area.

A minimum of 300 hours of internship experience and completion of the Praxis II School Leaders Licensure Assessment is required for certification as a Building Level Administrator. Certification as a Superintendent of Schools requires having building level administrator certification or significant leadership experience in an organization other than schools, along with completion of the Praxis II School Superintendent Assessment.

Teaching Reciprocity Agreements in Rhode Island

Teaching reciprocity agreements in Rhode Island are important if you want to use an out-of-state license to meet requirements for a new certification here. Education and experience earned in another state can help you expedite the process of becoming an educator in Rhode Island.

Requirement Description
NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Rhode Island participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement.
State Grants Full Reciprocity Rhode Island does not grant full reciprocity.
Coursework Requirements Out-of-state teachers do not have additional coursework requirements.
Test-out or Exemption Rhode Island does not offer test-out or exemptions.
Assessment Requirements All out-of-state applicants must meet the testing requirements for Rhode Island in the areas of certification they desire. English Language Competency testing is required for candidates who were educated at an institution where English was not the language of instruction. If out-of-state candidates meet all requirements except assessment requirements, they may qualify for a one-year Temporary Initial Educator Certificate.
Different Requirements Based on Experience Rhode Island does not have different requirements based on experience.
Performance Requirements Out-of-state teachers do not have performance requirements.
Special Reciprocity for Advanced Credentials Out-of-state teachers must meet all the requirements in the areas they desire certification before receiving full licensure. If out-of-state candidates meet all requirements except assessment requirements, they may qualify for a one-year Temporary Initial Educator Certificate.
Information reported by the Education Commission of the States.

Alternate Teaching Certification

Rhode Island offers Alternate Route to Teaching Certification Programs to help meet the demand for qualified teachers in high need certification areas and high need local education agencies. Candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. For secondary areas, a major in, or closely related to, the intended field of instruction is required. Demonstration of content knowledge by an approved method in a content area also is acceptable. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale also is required.

These programs include an intensive pre-service experience lasting at least five weeks. This prepares participants to begin working in classrooms as the teacher of record with a one-year Alternative Route Program Certificate. Participants attend on-going curriculum during the school year as they simultaneously teach in classrooms. Upon successful completion of all program components, participants can qualify for a Rhode Island Professional Certificate. Specific admission requirements and curriculum offerings may vary by specific program.

Teach for America

Teach for America promotes education equality by recruiting, training and assigning certified teachers in Rhode Island. Teach for America corps make two-year commitments to live and work in the state’s most needy school districts. Efforts are primarily in the areas surrounding Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket public schools. Selection is by a competitive application process that attracts the nation’s top college graduates. Those chosen receive training to earn a Rhode Island teaching certificate to begin their classroom assignments.

Troops to Teachers

Troops to Teachers provides mentoring to active or retired U.S. military members who want to continue service to their community with a career in teaching. This national Department of Defense program, managed by DANTES, helps veterans determine the best pathway to a Rhode Island teaching certificate. The organization also strives to help reduce teacher shortages by directing veterans toward areas where their skills are needed most. Eligible participants can benefit by receiving a stipend for education and certification expenses or a bonus for accepting a teaching position in a high need school.

Transition into Teaching for Career Changers

The Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate is an option for career changers to transition into teaching in Rhode Island. This option is available for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree and sufficient preparation in subject matter, administrative expertise or other certificate area-specific requirements that qualify them to work as educators while they pursue full certification. The Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate is valid for one year, with the possibility for renewal up to three times, as long as the candidate demonstrates progress in a program of study.

Credential Review Pathway to Teacher Certification

The Credential Review Pathway to Teacher Certification allows you to earn Rhode Island certification by submitting your professional credentials to meet certification requirements in some areas. This option allows you to pursue a customized program of study based on your experience.

Under these circumstances, The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) examines your completed coursework in comparison to the curriculum of an approved teacher preparation program to determine if you have completed a similar curriculum. While you may be able to bypass a formal education program, you are required to fulfill the certification requirements, including assessments. This pathway is appropriate for educators who are pursuing reinstatement of a certificate that expired more than five years ago.

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