Teacher certification in Rhode Island is overseen by the Office of Educator Quality and Certification (EQAC), a division of the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). EQAC mandates that any teacher, including elementary school educators, meet the minimum standards set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act. To meet these standards, you’ll need to earn a college degree, complete specific training requirements, submit to evaluations, and undergo a background check.

Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. Getting an education should be the first thing on your “to-do” list for becoming a teacher. All states require that you hold at least an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree earned through an accredited institution before you can apply for licensure.

Your degree program must include an approved teacher training program in order to be recognized as sufficient for licensure in Rhode Island. Any approved training program will also include a student teaching module, which will fulfill the state’s experience requirements.

Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. You will need to pass state and federal background checks before you are allowed to work in close proximity with children. This mans that all checks will need to be completed and cleared prior to your time as a student teacher.

A background check is a way of looking into the moral character of an individual – and as someone who will be trusted to work with young children, you are expected to demonstrate your uprightness in this way. Using your personal information and a set of fingerprints, state and federal law enforcement agencies will check vast criminal history databases to find any cause for concern in your past history.

Since each district may have its own unique procedure for gathering prints and obtaining your consent for a background check, you need to ask your program director at school about the procedure for your host school. The host school should send your background check results directly to the RIDE.

Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. You will have to take a series of standardized examinations as part of the qualifying requirements. These tests are a way of showing that you have a proper understanding of the subjects and concepts that you will be using in your career.

Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test

This exam is a basic skills test and is required of all education program graduates seeking licensure. It is divided into three sections, each with its own related categories.

  1. Reading
    • Literal Comprehension
    • Critical and Inferential Comprehension
  2. Writing
    • Grammatical Relationships
    • Structural Relationships
    • Word Choice and Mechanics
    • Essay
  3. Mathematics
    • Number and Operations
    • Algebra
    • Geometry and Measurement
    • Data Analysis and Probability

Taken independently, each section will cost $85. You may instead opt to take the combined version for a total of $135.

You’ll find lots of quality study materials for the reading, math, and writing subsections of this exam on the Praxis website.

Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) for Grades K-6

The PLT expands on your general subject area knowledge, and analyzes your capacity to be an effective elementary educator. During this evaluation, you will need to draw upon your knowledge of educational methods, concepts, and theories. You’ll also need to demonstrate your ability to create quality curriculum and to communicate effectively with students of all kinds. The PLT has five parts.

  1. Students as learners
  2. Instructional Process
  3. Assessment
  4. Professional Development, Leadership, and Community
  5. Analysis of Instructional Scenarios

You will have two hours to complete the entire exam. Make sure you do plenty of studying before you decide to take the PLT. You can find comprehensive study materials here.

Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects

The purpose of this exam is to measure your comprehension of elementary level subject areas. The timed test is divided into four parts.

  1. Reading and Language Arts
  2. Mathematics
  3. Social Studies
  4. Science

You will have 50 minutes each for the math, social studies, and science portions and one hour for the reading and language arts section. When the time has expired for one section, you will not be permitted to go back to it – even if you finish another section before its allotted time is up

Study materials for this test can be found on the Praxis website. You can search for a testing center near you and register for all Praxis series exams here.

Step 4 Get the required Experience. In order to meet Rhode Island’s experience requirements, you must complete at least 60 hours of preclinical field experience, and 12 weeks of student teaching. If you enroll in an approved teacher training program through your school, these will be fulfilled as a part of your coursework.

Part of the reason for this is to give you experience in working with diversity. As a teacher, you will need to be able to interact positively with students, parents, and school staff who may have vastly different views and/or backgrounds than you. Part of being a successful teacher is being able to bridge those differences by learning to convey concepts in ways that don’t alienate people. Sometimes, the only way to do this is to observe and experiment in a real-life classroom situation.

You’ll also get the chance to put many concepts and methods you’ve learned into action. Expect to lead discussions and activities, grade papers, administer tests, and perform any other duties that might be required of an elementary teacher. All of this will be done under the direct supervision of an experienced educator.

When you enter into the student teaching phase of your education, know that you are nearing the end of your quest for certification. Don’t lose focus, as this is one of the most important parts of your training. Prepare yourself by doing research on your host school to see how you should conduct yourself in order to comply with their professional standards. It’s also a great idea to email your host teacher to introduce yourself and find out if there are any materials you should bring to class with you.

Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. Upon completion of the above requirements, you can apply for your teaching certificate. RIDE currently only takes paper applications, sent by mail. Make sure to double check that you’ve included the following items in your application packet.

  • Application form, including recommendation for licensure from teacher training program officials
  • Application fee of $100, payable to “Rhode Island Department of Education”
  • Official transcripts
  • Copies of passing test results

Send all of the above documents to:

Rhode Island Department of Education
Office of Educator Quality and Certification
255 Westminster Street, 4th Floor
Providence, RI 02903-3400