Rhode Island Teacher Certification: How to Become a Licensed Teacher in Rhode Island

Teaching License Updated July 23, 2015

A career as an educator is a very rewarding one, but in most cases, you must become a certified teacher before you are eligible to work in your state. Learn about the requirements to become a certified teacher in Rhode Island so you can move along the career path you have chosen.

Requirements for certified teachers in Rhode Island

First and foremost, teachers in Rhode Island need to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and complete an approved teacher preparation program, which is usually included for graduates who majored in education. In addition to the degree, prospective teachers must have completed at least 60 hours of field experience plus a 12-week student teaching program. Again, these components are usually part of an education major.

If you have not completed a teacher preparation program, but have done comparable coursework, you can also earn certification through the process of transcript analysis. In this process, the Department of Education assesses the coursework you have completed to determine if it is comparable to what you would learn in a traditional teacher preparation program.

In addition, you must take and pass several tests to become a certified teacher in Rhode Island. The specific tests depend on the grade level for which you plan to earn your certification. All teachers must take and pass the PRAXIS Principles of Learning and Teaching test for the grade level in question, although teachers for the middle grades can choose from either the elementary or secondary test. In addition, you must take and pass one of the PRAXIS II Content Knowledge tests, either a general one for elementary certification or specific subject for middle and secondary certification. If you completed at least 30 university credits in your subject area, you can bypass the subject test for middle or secondary certification.

Depending on the type of certificate you start with, it must be renewed every three to seven years. Renewal is based solely on whether you demonstrate evidence of effective practice, based on evaluation ratings.

Rhode Island jobs for licensed teachers

The teaching jobs available to you depend on what kind of Rhode Island teaching certification you obtained. There are three tiered levels of certification in Rhode Island:

  1. The Initial Educator Certificate lasts three years and is for first-time Rhode Island teachers.
  2. The Professional Educator Certificate lasts five years and is given to teachers who demonstrate acceptable levels of performance under an Initial Educator Certificate.
  3. The Advanced Educator Certificate is valid for seven years and is awarded to highly effective teachers in Rhode Island. It requires five successful teaching evaluations in separate years under a Professional Educator Certificate.

The state also offers a substitute teacher permit for day-to-day substitute work, and all you need is a bachelor’s degree.

If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for Rhode Island for the 2015-2016 school year:

General Education

  • Early Childhood
  • Elementary Education
  • Middles Grades (English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Spanish)
  • Secondary Grades (Biology, Business Education, Chemistry, English, General Science, Mathematics, Physics, Social Studies, World Language)
  • Special Education (Early Childhood Special Educator, Elementary/Middle Special Educator, Middle/Secondary Special Educator, Severe Profound Special Educator)
  • Special Subjects (Family and Consumer Science, Library Media, Music, Technology Education, Theatre)
  • Support Professionals (Reading Specialist Consultant)
  • Other Areas (Bilingual and Dual Language, Career and Technical Education, English as a Second Language, School Nurse Teacher)

A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.

Teaching license reciprocity in Rhode Island

Rhode Island participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.

Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.

Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.

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