Rhode Island Teacher Certification Guide


Rhode Island Teacher Certification Overview

There are four paths leading to Rhode Island teacher certification:

  1. The Rhode Island Approved Program Pathway - candidate completes a Rhode Island Approved Program that leads to a Bachelor's degree and includes field experience. Candidate then earns a passing PRAXIS score on the appropriate PRAXIS exam as designated by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and provides documentation attesting to good moral character including criminal, employment and certification history.
  2. Credential Review Pathway - candidate submits evidence of a RIDE-approved academic program leading to a Bachelor's degree. Candidate then passes the PRAXIS exam and provides documentation attesting to good moral character including criminal, employment and certification history.
  3. Reciprocity Pathway - candidate completes an approved out-of-state teacher program or shows evidence of a valid out-of-state teaching certificate and passes the appropriate PRAXIS exams.
  4. Preliminary Certificate Pathway - candidates can secure employment as teachers while completing requirements for certification. They must show evidence of having completed an accredited Bachelor's degree with a grade point average of 'B' or better, complete a minimum 5-week pre-service program, make appropriate progress on an approved curriculum of seminars or courses, and serve as teacher of record for a minimum of one school year under supervision of appropriate educators.

Educator Preparation Programs in Rhode Island

Approved educator preparation programs are offered at nine Rhode Island universities and colleges. All of them lead to a Bachelor's degree and teach the knowledge and skills required by the Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards. This includes study of principles of pedagogy, relevant content knowledge, development of relevant standards and data-driven instruction, use of technology for instruction, and the development of cultural competency. All approved programs include field experience.

Rhode Island schools with approved programs are:

  • Brown University
  • Johnson and Wales University
  • Rhode Island School of Progressive Education
  • Providence College
  • Rhode Island College
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Roger Williams University
  • Salve Regina University
  • University of Rhode Island

Two additional approved programs are:

  • Principal Residency Network
  • Teach for America

Candidates completing one of these programs are eligible for full certification in Rhode Island or in any other states that have reciprocity agreements with the state through the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). Approved programs do not necessarily offer programs in all certification areas. Candidates should check the Rhode Island Department of Education certification website for a complete list of certification areas covered by each program or school.

Education Prerequisites for Teachers in Rhode Island

Admission to teacher preparation programs in Rhode Island generally begins after completing two years of basic coursework consisting of at least 24 credits and achieved with minimum grade point average of 2.75. The applicant will need to show basic competency in reading, writing and math, either through designated coursework or satisfactory test scores on the SAT or ACT.

Once admitted to the teacher training program, the candidate must complete a Bachelor's degree including approximately 30 credits in education courses. Those seeking to teach at the secondary level will also take at least 30 credits in a selected content area. All students will also complete an experiential component.

Teacher Certification Tests, Exams and Assessments in Rhode Island

All candidates must achieve the PRAXIS test score requirements needed for PRAXIS Rhode Island exams that test basic knowledge and skills, advanced knowledge according to subject area, and pedagogical principles. To determine exactly which ones are needed, candidates should consult the RIDE website.

Applicants seeking certification as elementary teachers will need to pass the Elementary Multiple Subjects exam comprised of four sections:

  • Reading and Language Arts; Passing Score 157
  • Mathematics; Passing Score 157
  • Social Science: Passing Score 155
  • Science; Passing Score 159, and
  • Principles of Learning and Teaching K-6; Passing Score 160

Candidates seeking middle school or high school certification will need to pass the appropriate content test for the subject they wish to teach and the appropriate PRAXIS Pedagogy test. Candidates should check the RIDE website for the particular tests needed and accompanying passing scores. There are also designated PRAXIS test for certification in Early Childhood, Special Education, and Administration.

Criminal History Disclosure Requirements for Teachers in Rhode Island

All applicants for RI teacher certification must include an attestation that they are of good moral character and any history of convictions, dismissals or disciplinary actions. Previous teacher certifications that were suspended, revoked or surrendered must be disclosed, as well as any criminal matter regardless of how long ago it may have occurred. Candidates are also required to provide a social security number to verify that all due taxes have been paid.

Rhode Island's Application Process for Department of Education Certification

Applicants for teacher certification in Rhode Island can send applications to the Rhode Island Department of Education, Office of Educator Excellence & Certification Services or preferably apply online on the RIDE website.

This application serves for both first-time certification and renewals, but is NOT used for Alternate Route Program Certificate, Emergency Certificate, Expert Residency Certificate, Visiting Lecturer Certificate, Career and Technical Education Certificate or School Nurse Teacher Certificate. Applicants must:

  • Complete and sign the application
  • Submit an official transcript from an accredited teacher preparation program
  • Submit required test scores (Photocopies are allowed)
  • Submit copies of any certifications already held
  • Provide payment of fee to the General Treasurer State of Rhode Island.

Applicants can apply any time during the year keeping in mind an average of 12 - 16 weeks needed for processing. The current fee is $100 for each certification area sought.

Alternative Ways to Become Certified to Teach in RI

Alternate paths to certification include:

  • The Credential Review pathway - only available for a limited number of certification areas. It allows candidates to seek a credential after following a different or customized educational program outside of the RIDE-approved programs.
  • Reciprocity - for those who have completed an accredited out-of-state teacher preparation program or hold a valid teacher certificate from another state.
  • Preliminary Certification - allows candidates who have not yet completed all the requirements for Rhode Island certification to work as educators while working towards meeting those requirements.
  • Teach for America programs - available in Rhode Island since 2010.

These paths require same testing and passing scores as the Rhode Island Approved Programs.

Teach for America

To be considered for Teach for America, candidates must hold a Bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5. The applicant must also either be a citizen, a legal resident or have employment authorization that does not require employer sponsorship. Applications include school transcripts, a statement of interest in the program, a resume, and two recommendations. Selected candidates will be invited for an interview to conduct a five-minute sample lesson along with two written responses to posed scenarios.

Selected participants must satisfactorily complete a six-week summer institute training program at Temple University in Pennsylvania and all required PRAXIS tests for teachers to receive a one-year Preliminary Certificate. During the first year of teaching in Rhode Island, corps members will take four or five courses according to their level and subject area of teaching.

Expert Residency Preliminary Certificate

Requirements for Expert Residency Preliminary Certificates vary according to the area being pursued. All candidates must have a Bachelor's degree and some areas require a graduate degree. A full chart of eligible subjects and qualifications can be found on the RIDE website. Candidates can expect to fulfill coursework and testing requirements.

This certificate is good for one-year but can renewed annually for three years subject to demonstrated progress in meeting all requirements for a full teaching certificate. In addition, local education agency recommendations are required to renew the Expert Residency certificate.

Certification Through Credential Review

Applicants can find the Teacher Certificate Areas eligible for certification through credential review on the RIDE website. Five Rhode Island Colleges or Universities conduct approved programs for certification in this path. The process for this review is as follows:

  1. An Entrance/Exit document providing evidence of having met required professional competencies.
  2. The Credential Review Consortium will determine if all requirements have been met.
  3. Candidate must show evidence of satisfactory completion of testing requirements.
  4. Full certification.

RIDE Emergency Certification

Emergency Teacher Certification in RI is only given when no certified qualified applicant is available. A school district must request this one-year certificate, and it can only be applied in that school district for that year. The district must unsuccessfully attempt to recruit a qualified certified applicant for a minimum of 30 days.

The applicant and the district submit applications together including required fees. Requirements for uncertified applicants vary, but all are required to hold at least a Bachelor's degree, to meet academic subject matter requirements, and to show appropriate work experience. To renew this emergency certificate, applicants must show successful performance while working under the emergency certificate and progress through a Rhode Island Approved Program or Credential Review toward meeting full certification requirements. Emergency certifications can be renewed up to three times.

Teachers from Other States Seeking Reciprocity

Rhode Island teaching license reciprocity is possible. Rhode Island participates in inter-state flexibility agreements through the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education (NASDTEC). Beginning in 2020, the Rhode Island Department of Education expanded the number of states offering streamlined paths to certification. The 16 jurisdictions holding an Inter-State Flexibility Agreement with Rhode Island are Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Candidates holding a valid teaching certificate or having completed an accredited teacher preparation program in one of these states are exempt from testing and experience requirements in securing full Rhode Island certification.

Rhode Island Teacher Certification Renewal and Continuing Education

RI Teacher Certification is given as a 3-year certificate. Educators are required to attain 25 Professional Learning Units (PLUs) during each teaching year to accumulate 75 PLUs and be eligible to renew the certificate.

Each district creates professional learning plans for their educators to facilitate earning PLUs. These can include lesson study, student work analysis, or coaching with observation and feedback. Educators accumulating 75 PLUs during the first three years are eligible for a 5-year Professional Certificate. To renew the Professional Certificate, educators must complete 15 PLUs per year of teaching.

Educators can also qualify for a 7-year Advanced certificate by receiving National Board certification, earning an advanced degree, receiving Rhode Island or national recognition for teaching excellence, completing an executive development program or achieving certification in specified high-need areas.

Rhode Island Teacher Salaries and Outlook

Teaching in RI can offer competitive salaries, as teachers are hired by the 36 individual school districts. The chart below shows the most recent reporting of Rhode Island's teacher employment outlook according to the National Education Association.

Type Number Employed Mean Salary Approximate Yearly
Job Offerings
Elementary 3520 $71,990 240
Middle School 1660 $72,180 130
High School 4410 $71,440 250