How to Become a Teacher in Rhode Island

Becoming a Teacher in Rhode Island

Rhode Island prides itself on its public school system. With a low teacher-to-student ratio, high student expenditure, and exemplary teacher salaries, Rhode Island recruits the best of the best.

If you are looking to join the ranks of Rhode Island's esteemed teachers, you will need to

  • Complete a bachelor's degree with greater than 2.75 GPA
  • Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program

Most educators complete their teacher preparation program and their bachelor's degree concurrently. Many accredited universities in Rhode Island will offer programs that lead to certification. These universities also offer graduate-level programs that lead to certification.

Rhode Island has also recently expanded both its alternative routes to certification and its teacher reciprocity agreements.

Rhode Island Teacher Education Requirements

State-approved teacher preparation programs are required to provide their students with at least sixty hours of fieldwork and twelve weeks of student teaching. The hands-on experience gained in a state-approved program is a requirement for certification. Coursework will vary depending on one's content area and intended grade level.

Rhode Island Teacher Certification Programs

In order for one's state-approved teacher preparation program to count towards a teaching certification, it must have been completed within five years of your application.

Rhode Island is home to a host of state-approved teacher preparation programs. These programs offer degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are also opportunities to attend a teacher preparation program in a post-baccalaureate setting. Some state-approved institutions are (but not limited to):

  • Brown University
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Rhode Island College
  • Roger Williams University
  • Providence College

Alternative Route Preparation Program

Rhode Island has approved alternative programs that enable the state to recruit high-quality individuals to the classroom as they complete the needed requirements for certification. These programs allow educators to serve as the teacher of record while completing their degrees. These alternative programs are offered at the master's and post-graduate levels.

In order to qualify for these programs, you must have graduated with a bachelor's degree and have a GPA greater than 3.0. Students must have also had an employment offer from a Rhode Island school district that is willing to let the individual complete their alternative program while working full time as an instructor.

Schools that offer alternative route preparation programs in Rhode Island:

  • Providence College
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Roger Williams University
  • Brown University
  • Rhode Island College

Rhode Island Teacher Testing Requirements

All new educators in Rhode Island are required to pass two Praxis tests: Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) and the appropriate Praxis content exam or Praxis Subject Assessment. A few specialties will require additional tests.

Additional Requirements for Rhode Island Teachers

While Rhode Island does not require criminal background checks for licensure, some districts may abide by different rules. The certification application does ask that applicants attest to their moral character.

Rhode Island Teacher Licensing Application Process

The Rhode Island Department of Education handles certification applications. If you have the following:

  • Completed teacher certification application and $100 application fee
  • Official transcripts to prove a conferred bachelor's degree
  • Verification of a completed teacher preparation program
  • Praxis passing scores on the appropriate Praxis exams

You are ready to submit your application. Applications are reviewed by RIDE in fourteen to sixteen weeks.

Alternative Paths to Certification in Rhode Island

There are quite a few ways to get a teaching certificate in Rhode Island outside of the traditional route. All individuals who choose to follow an alternative path to certification in Rhode Island must pass the PLT Praxis test.

Credential Review (either Credential Review Consortium (CRCI) or Rhode Island Department of Education Credential Review): This route is intended for individuals who have shown academic excellence or have extensive experience in a PK-12 classroom. Extensive experience would be one full semester of supervised student teaching or greater than 270 days of full-time teaching. An individual must possess a bachelor's degree and have graduated with a GPA greater or equal to 3.0. Praxis exam passing scores are also required.

Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate: This route is intended for individuals who can demonstrate significant expertise in a specific content area but have yet to complete their teacher preparation program. In order to apply, one must verify that one is enrolling in a teacher preparation program. This certificate is available for renewal, but progress towards the completion of one's program must be demonstrated.

Career and Technical Education Certificate: This route is designed for working professionals with expertise looking for a career switch to teaching. CTE certification allows an individual to teach while they meet Rhode Island's additional requirements for certification. In order to apply to the CTE certificate program, one must possess a high school diploma, notable work experience in a CTE field, a RI license (if applicable), and passing scores on the appropriate NOCTI exam (some industry certificates may exempt one from this requirement).

Reciprocity in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a participant in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement. If one has completed an out-of-state accredited teacher preparation program, one may be able to apply for certification in Rhode Island if the state that the teacher preparation program was conferred in is also a member of NASDTEC.

Rhode Island has, as of 2020, expanded its Inter-State Flexibility Agreement. If one holds a valid teaching license in one of the sixteen states listed below, you may be eligible for a fast-tracked Rhode Island teaching license. You would not be required to retake any state tests or meet experience requirements (unless your teaching specialty requires a special certificate).

Teachers from the following states are eligible for streamlined reciprocity in Rhode Island:

Connecticut, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, South Carolina, District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Vermont, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia

For other states, you will need to apply for a Temporary Initial Educator Certificate. This certificate is for educators seeking reciprocity and who have met all requirements besides testing. This license is non-renewable.

Rhode Island may also accept your teacher certificate program if it was accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Tiered Teaching Licenses in Rhode Island

Rhode Island operates on a tiered licensing structure. In order to qualify for the next tier, educators must earn approving ratings on their annual evaluations.

Initial Educator Certificate: New educators who meet the state requirements (bachelor's degree and completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program) are granted an initial educator certificate. This certificate is valid for three years.

Professional Educator Certificate: Teachers are eligible for this license after completing three years of teaching and earning high ratings on their evaluations.

Advanced Educator Certificate: Teachers are eligible for this license after completing at least five years of teaching and earning high ratings on their evaluations

Job Outlook and Salaries for Educators in Rhode Island

Rhode Island, like many states, is currently experiencing teacher shortages in some content areas. Jobs are expected to grow as individuals retire and the state seeks to fill shortages.

Rhode Island educators have consistently been some of the best paid. Starting salaries typically average $41,869. With some experience, Rhode Island educators, on average, make $71,990 a year. There are some differences between content areas and grade levels, but in a less significant way than other areas of the US.

Earning a graduate degree can increase your salary by more than $3,000 annually in Rhode Island.

Expert Contributor

Katie Slaughter

Katie Slaughter, M.A. has taught middle school science and math for over 6 years. She has helped lay a foundation for personalized learning in her school and has presented internationally about what she is doing in her classroom. She has successfully passed numerous Praxis exams. Katie completed a B.S. in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University and an M.A. in Teaching from Georgetown College.

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