How to Become a Teacher in Rhode Island

As a teacher, you will learn that you hold one of the most respectable and rewarding jobs in the world. Teachers have the direct ability to influence and impact their students in a way that others may not. Rhode Island boasts their excellent educators. With that said, the following steps will help you become a certified educator in Rhode Island.

Choose What You Want to Teach

The first decision you must make is the type of certification you would like to earn. Some common areas are elementary school, high school, middle school, or special education. This is the most important step. The second most important step, for middle school and high school teachers, is to decide what subject area you would like to focus on. For example, would you like to teach Science? The Rhode Island Department of Education provides information about schools, teachers, and students in the state, which could help you make a decision.

Complete Your Education Requirements for Teaching in Rhode Island

Anyone who chooses to teach in the state of Rhode Island must have a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree. You must also complete an educator preparation program that is approved by the state board in Rhode Island. The educator preparation courses will focus on whatever area you choose to teach.

If you do not have a Bachelor's Degree yet, it is likely that you will be able to complete Bachelor's Degree and educator preparation programs simultaneously. Talk to a college or university advisor to see if such a blended program is available to you. This is a great route for individuals who know from early on that they want to become a teacher.

Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Rhode Island has eight institutions of higher education with approved educator preparation programs. If the program id accredited, educator preparation programs can be completed at a physical school or online.

Educator preparation programs are generally structured on a combination of college coursework and fieldwork. College courses in the program usually cover topics such as, subject-based teaching methods, differentiated instruction strategies, classroom management, and integration of technology. Fieldwork includes classroom observations, student teaching, and/or internships. Student teachers become instructors in real classrooms under the supervision and guidance of an experienced teacher. During your time as a student teacher, you will prepare and implement lessons based on the needs of your student population. In addition, you will be required to monitor classroom behavior, grade assignments, and communicate with parents. In Rhode Island, graduates of approved programs are automatically eligible for certification (provided they have achieved passing test scores).

As mentioned earlier, many teaching candidates complete an educator preparation program as part of the Bachelor's Degree. However, if you already have a Bachelor's Degree, you can complete a post-baccalaureate or alternative educator preparation program. Some institutions of higher education even offer joint Master's Degree and educator preparation programs.

Alternative Teacher Certification in Rhode Island

There are other routes that you can take in order to become a licensed teacher in Rhode Island.

Alternative Educator Preparation

The alternative educator preparation program provide preparation to educator candidates who serve as teachers of record while completing the approved program. These programs may be offered by an institution of higher education, a professional organization, or a private service provider.

Preliminary Educator Certificate

Preliminary Educator Certificates are awarded to individuals who are not fully certified to serve as educators of record, while pursuing certification. There are six types of Preliminary Educator Certificates: Alternate Route Preliminary, Career and Technical Education Preliminary, Emergency Preliminary, Expert Residency Preliminary, Temporary Initial Educator Preliminary, and Visiting Lecturer Preliminary.

Pass the Required Tests for Rhode Island

Basic Skills

Rhode Island requires public school teachers to pass a basic skills test. This test could be fulfilled by taking the CORE Academic Skills for Educators Test. This CORE exam measures an individual's skills in basic reading, writing, and mathematics.

Subject Tests

A subject knowledge verification test must also be taken. The Praxis II test will usually fulfill this requirement. The test includes three portions: subject assessment, principles of learning and teaching, as well as a teaching foundations test. The test should be taken in the area you want to teach.

Apply for your Rhode Island Teacher Certification

Application Requirements

You will be required to provide the following when you apply to become a certified teacher in Rhode Island:

  • Completed application form
  • Application fee as established by the Board of Regents
  • Official transcript(s) from an approved institution showing degree(s) and completion of an educator preparation program
  • Official verification from the testing agency showing a passing score on required assessments

Contact Information

Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-4600

Find a Teaching Job in Rhode Island

After completing the above steps, you will be fully prepared to find a job in the state of Rhode Island as a professional and fully qualified teacher. There are countless opportunities for you to choose from now that you are qualified. Take your time and explore your options before making this life-changing decision.

Teaching in a Public School

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has outsourced all public job listings through SchoolSpring.com. As noted on the department's website, all applications to RIDE must now be made through this auxiliary site. Using a third-party system allows employers and potential employees to effectively manage their profiles, applications, and postings.

Currently, the state of Rhode Island has need for trained professionals who can teach languages, STEM subjects, and special education.

Teacher Associations in Rhode Island

After their contract begins, teachers join a professional association or union. Unions support teachers by advocating for their financial, legal, and professional rights in the classroom.

Teaching in a Private School

Other employment alternatives exist for teachers uninterested in the public system. The state's 199 private schools seek certified, dynamic educators as well. Private schools usually have smaller class sizes which make it easier for teachers to meet the needs of all their diverse students. Candidates should note that some private schools have a religious affiliation. Those who wish to be employed by a private school can seek more information from the actual school, as there may be additional requirements.

Teacher Shortage in Rhode Island by Subjects or Discipline (2014-2015)

The following list of teacher shortage areas in Rhode Island has been obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) list for the 2014-2015 school year

  • Early Childhood
  • Elementary Education
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Spanish
  • Biology
  • Business Education
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • 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

Number of Public School Teachers By Grade

The table below lists the number of public school teachers in Rhode Island by grade level during the 2012-2013 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Pre-kindergarten & Preschool Teachers129
Kindergarten Teachers346
Elementary Teachers4,884
Middle & High School Teachers4,512

Data obtained from the State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey Data 2013

Number of Private School Teachers By Grade

There are more than 130 private schools with an estimated 2,100 private school teachers in Rhode Island. The table below details the number of teachers by grade level during the 2011-2012 school year.

Grade LevelNumber of Teachers
Elementary School Teachers925
Middle & High School Teachers521
Combined K-12 School Teachers667

Data obtained from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS) 2012

Continue Your Education and Professional Development

In order to be most effective in the classroom, teachers are required to continually develop their professional practice in a variety of ways. Through in-services, webinars, seminars, research, conferences, writing, curriculum development, and self-assessment, teachers continually gain strategies in order to boost student achievement. In addition, professional development helps teachers reach their personal career and salary goals. Professional development most often centers around implementing strategies for student engagement in their particular subject matter, but can also focus on evaluation, additional school roles, or educating special populations.

Professional Development in Rhode Island

Rhode Island's Department of Education has numerous supports in place to ensure that teachers receive the training that they need to meet state and student standards. An up-to-date calendar informs teachers of accredited professional development offerings throughout the state. There are also a number of online third-party PD providers such as teacheredonline.org that provide convenient and high-quality online offerings to educators. Teachers requiring additional information may contact the Office of Educator Quality and Certification (EQAC).