Everyday Rhode Island’s preschool teachers work to ensure a balanced and comprehensive education for young children. With more than five percent of the state’s population under the age of five, the demand for preschool teachers in Rhode Island is expected to correlate well with the projected nationwide increase of 17 percent during the ten-year period leading up to 2022.
Rhode Island recognizes its young children as its most precious and delicate asset, and for this reason preschool teachers in the state must prove themselves to be educated and qualified professionals. The Rhode Island Department of Education is responsible for reviewing the credentials of all prospective preschool teachers in the state and issuing those who are qualified with an Early Childhood Education Certificate. To become a preschool teacher in Rhode Island you will need to navigate the following steps:
|Earn at Least a Bachelor’s Degree|
|Pass the Required Rhode Island Exams|
|Apply for an Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate|
|Renew Your Preschool Teaching Certification|
Step 1. Earn at Least a Bachelor’s Degree
Rhode Island preschool teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to become a certified early childhood education teacher through the Rhode Island Department of Education. As part of your academic requirements, you must also graduate from an approved pedagogical preparation program specifically for early childhood education teachers. You can find these programs in the education departments of Rhode Island schools and universities.
As you complete your initial degree and early childhood education teacher preparation program, you can expect to take courses in:
- Social work and early childhood education
- Materials and methods for education in the arts
- Early childhood education best practices
- Educating children and youth with disabilities
- Early childhood development: birth through eight years of age
- Early care and education for newborns to children three years of age
- Early childhood dual language development
- Developmental literacy and language arts
- Mathematics in pre-kindergarten through the second grade
- Student teaching in early childhood settings
You will start the student teaching segment of your early childhood teacher preparation program as you near the completion of your degree. This is an important part of your teacher training where you will work in a preschool classroom environment, putting into practice the skills you have been learning over the previous four years.
Before you can start your student teaching you will need to accumulate at least 60 hours of field experience. Your student teaching assignment will last for at least 12 weeks.
You can also become eligible for a Rhode Island Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate by fulfilling specific course requirements. This route can be particularly useful for out-of-state candidates who have not completed a Rhode Island-approved teacher preparation program in early childhood development. To take this route you will still need to meet the Rhode Island testing requirements and earn at least a bachelor’s degree.
As part of your education you must complete at least six semester hours of early childhood student teaching and at least 24 semester credits in the following areas:
- Child growth and development
- Methods and curriculum in early childhood education
- Service and identification of children with special needs
- Community, family, and child relationships
- Reading readiness and developmental reading
- Health and nutrition for the young child
Step 2. Pass the Required Rhode Island Exams
To meet the preschool teacher certification requirements in Rhode Island you will need to choose a series of tests to complete:
- Option 1:
- Praxis II Education of Young Children
- Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge
- Option 2:
- Principles of Learning and Teaching Test K-6
- Elementary Multiple Subjects Test
- Reading and Language Arts subtest
- Mathematics subtest
- Social Science subtest
- Science subtest
Although passing either series of tests will qualify you to earn a teaching certificate in early childhood education, the first testing option focuses more on subjects that are relevant to the preschool teacher job description. The second testing option is geared more towards prospective kindergarten and early grades primary school teachers. All tests are administered by Education Testing Services (ETS).
Praxis II Education of Young Children
You will be allotted two hours to complete the Praxis II Education of Young Children exam, which is made up of 90 multiple-choice and three constructed-response questions, taken from six main subject areas:
- Early childhood development – 14 percent
- Supporting and teaching diverse children – 12 percent
- Creating developmentally-appropriate learning environments – 15 percent
- The teaching and learning instructional and assessment process – 20 percent
- Community, family, and professionalism – 19 percent
- Demonstrated knowledge in these fields through constructed written responses – 20 percent
Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge
You will also have two hours to complete the Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge exam. This is comprised of 120 multiple-choice questions taken from six main subject areas:
- Language and literacy – 31 percent
- Mathematics – 25 percent
- Social studies – 13 percent
- Science – 13 percent
- Health and physical education – 9 percent
- Creative and performing arts – 9 percent
Testing Centers in Rhode Island
ETS maintains three testing centers in Rhode Island where you can take these exams:
- In Cumberland at the Prometric Testing Center located on 1300 Highland Corporate Drive, Suite 102A
- In Providence at 1 Hilton Street, Room 1170A
- In Warwick at the Prometric Testing Center located on 2346 Post Road, Suite 104
Step 3. Apply for an Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate
At this point you will have fulfilled all the major requirements for preschool teacher licensure in Rhode Island and will be ready to complete an Educator Certification General Application Form. Along with the application, you will also need to submit the following:
- Official transcripts from the educational institution where you completed your degree and teacher preparation program in early childhood development
- Score reports for any tests that were not reported directly to the Department of Education
When you are completing your application for certification, make sure to indicate you are applying for a certificate as an Early Childhood Education Teacher for grades PK-2, certification code #11101.
All your application items can be submitted to:
Rhode Island Department of Education
Office of Educator Quality and Certification
255 Westminster Street, 4th Floor
Providence, RI 02903-3400
Once you have received your certification you can start applying for preschool teacher jobs in Rhode Island through resources such as the Department of Education’s employment website.
Out-of-State Preschool Teachers
If you are already a certified preschool teacher in your home state you may be eligible to receive a Rhode Island teaching certificate based on reciprocity. To be eligible for this you must:
- Have passed the Rhode Island examination requirements or their equivalent
- Have comparable student teaching and education experience
- Have one of the following:
- Completed a teacher education program in early childhood development that is approved by your home state within the past five years
- Currently hold a full and valid preschool teaching certification in your home state
Step 4. Renew Your Preschool Teaching Certification
You can upgrade your initial early childhood education teaching certification after three years by participating in and completing Rhode Island’s Local Educator Evaluation System. This is considered by the state’s Department of Education to be the most effective model for promoting effective teachers and developing valuable educators.
As part of the Local Educator Evaluation System you will complete a professional growth model with concrete goals, as well as an assessment and evaluation of this at least three times a year, including one final evaluation at the end of every school year. You will also receive teaching evaluations in three key areas of your performance:
- The learning achievements of your preschool students
- Demonstration of professional practice as a preschool teacher
- Effective management of your professional responsibilities
Once you have earned a passing score on your year-end teacher evaluation for at least three years you will be eligible to upgrade your teaching certification to a five-year Professional Certificate. To upgrade your Professional Certificate to the next level you will need to continue to participate and advance in the Local Educator Evaluation System.
Many preschool teachers in Rhode Island also choose to improve their professional qualifications by furthering their education with a master’s degree, such as an M.Ed., MATL, or M.A.T. Earning a master’s degree in education that includes additional graduate level courses relating to early childhood education and development is one of the most concrete means of demonstrating a commitment to your field. Educational institutions throughout Rhode Island and online offer graduate-level coursework and degrees that are highly relevant to improving your preschool teaching qualifications. A master’s degree will prepare you for:
- Leadership roles as a preschool teacher and early childhood education expert
- Optimized skills and abilities as a preschool teacher or director
- Understanding advanced principles and techniques in the field of early childhood education and development
Rhode Island Preschool Teacher Salaries
There are approximately 1,390 actively employed preschool teachers (except special education) in the state of Rhode Island. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, they earn an annual mean salary of $34,200 and an hourly mean wage of $16.45. This compares very favorably to the national annual and hourly means of $25,800 and $12.40 respectively.
Preschool salaries (2013) in the Providence/Fall River/Warwick metropolitan area are:
Number of employed preschool teachers – 1,890
Annual mean salary – $33,030
Hourly mean wage – $15.88
Average salary of top 10 percent – $58,950
Rhode Island ranks in the top 10 states for the amount of money allocated for education. In addition, in 2010 Rhode Island received a $75 million “Race to the Top” grant for early childhood education. To date, the state has developed seven early learning projects, including Early Learning Improvement, Early Learning Standards/Development and Early Learning Workforce Development.
Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) administrators believe quality preschool depends upon quality teachers. In an effort to develop a top-notch preschool workforce RIDE has implemented both extremely competitive preschool teacher salaries and stringent requirements for being granted the early childhood education certificate needed to teach pre-K to second grade.
Requirements for an early childhood education certificate include all of the following:
Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college/university
Successful completion of an early childhood teacher program
Twelve or more weeks of student teaching
Passing basic skills tests
The hundreds of preschools in Rhode Island include many that are free. RIDE is committed to making quality preschool available to all of the state’s children to enable them to develop the knowledge, cognitive abilities and social skills needed for a smooth transition to kindergarten and a successful school career. The state has many assistance programs for low-income families, including a state lottery. RIDE’s current pre-school expansion program has opened many new opportunities for preschool teachers in the small but powerful state of Rhode Island.
Additional salary data by city and non-metro region is featured in the table below (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013):