Whether you are a new student, experienced professional with a bachelor’s degree, or an out-of-state teacher, the following steps will help you lean how to become a math teacher in Rhode Island:
|Complete a Degree Program to Prepare for Teaching Mathematics|
|Pass the ETS Pedagogy and Math Tests|
|Apply for Rhode Island Mathematics Teaching Certification|
|Maintain and Develop Your Rhode Island Teaching Certification|
In 2013, 74 percent of Rhode Island students participated in the SAT Math test, earning an average score of 490. This is compared to just 50 percent of students nationally.
The Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education sets the math teacher certification requirements, and the state Department of Education’s Office of Educator Quality and Certification evaluates applicants on these standards, certifying those who qualify.
Step 1. Complete a Degree Program to Prepare for Teaching Mathematics
For new students, the most direct way to become a math teacher in Rhode Island is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in math that also includes an appropriate teacher preparation program. Pursuing a degree in the combined fields of mathematics and pedagogy means the courses you take will include:
- Algebra and geometry
- Adolescent psychology
- Identification of special needs students
- Number theory
- History of mathematics
- Teaching reading in the field of mathematics
- Measurements and evaluations
- Foundations of pedagogy and education
The Board of Regents distinguishes between two different types of math teachers in the state. You will need to choose one path as you prepare for certification, however you can switch to the other track by going through a short process later on in your career:
- Middle Grades Mathematics Teacher for grades 5-8
- Secondary Grades Mathematics Teacher for grades 7-12
If you are completing a Rhode Island degree program that results in eligibility for a math teaching certification, your program will automatically include an approved teacher preparation program. If your preparation program is traditional it will include a minimum of 60 hours of field experience plus at least 12 weeks of student teaching.
Alternative Certification Options
If you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in math but have not completed an approved teacher preparation program, you will need to do this before you can be eligible to be licensed. There are several of these programs in Rhode Island for candidates who want to become middle school and high school math teachers. These include:
For alternative preparation programs like Teach for American and the New Teacher Project, the student teaching requirement is fulfilled by having at least two years of classroom teaching experience.
If you have completed the requirements to become a certified math teacher in another state, and these requirements are comparable to Rhode Island’s, you are eligible for certification in Rhode Island if you fall into one of these two categories:
- You have completed a teacher preparation program in your home state within the past five years
- You are currently a certified teacher in your home state
Rhode Island Elementary School Teachers
If you are already a certified elementary school teacher in Rhode Island with at least a bachelor’s degree or major in mathematics, you have the unique option to extend your certification to become a middle school mathematics teacher if you meet these requirements:
- Pass the appropriate ETS tests
- Complete 45 hours of practicum education in the field of mathematics
Step 2. Pass the ETS Pedagogy and Math Tests
Before you can apply to become a math teacher in Rhode Island you will need to complete two tests, both of which are administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). There are different tests for middle school math teachers (grades 5-8) and secondary education math teachers (grades 7-12), so you will need to choose the test that aligns with your teaching goals.
The first test is Principles of Learning and Teaching. This evaluates your fundamental knowledge of pedagogy and teaching, and the test you should take depends on the grade levels you will teach:
Both tests evaluate essentially the same subject areas and have similar details:
- 2 hours allowed for completion
- 70 multiple-choice and 4 constructed-response questions covering:
- Process of instruction
- Student learning methods
- Testing and assessments
- Community leadership and professional development
- Instructional scenarios
The second test you must pass evaluates your knowledge specific to the subject of mathematics. This is sometimes referred to as the Praxis II test, and is also offered according to the grades you intend to teach:
- Middle School Mathematics for grades 5-8
- Study guide
- 2 hours to complete 55 questions covering:
- Mathematics: Content Knowledge for grades 7-12
- Study guide
- 150 minutes to complete 60 questions covering:
- Number and quantity
- Statistics and probability
- Discreet mathematics
Step 3. Apply for Rhode Island Mathematics Teaching Certification
Once you have graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, have completed a Middle Grades or Secondary Grades mathematics teacher preparation program, and have passed the required tests, you will be eligible to fill out an Application for an Initial Educator Certificate.
When filling out your application make sure to designate the correct code for your area of teaching, which depends on the teacher preparation program and tests you have completed:
- Middle Grades Mathematics Teacher, Grades 5-8: code 11302
- Middle Grades Mathematics Teacher Elementary Extension, Grades 5-8: code 11332
- Secondary Grades Mathematics Teacher, Grades 7-12: code 11408
Completed applications should be sent to the Department of Education’s Office of Educator Quality and Certification in Providence.
If your application is successful you will receive your math teacher certification in an average of 12-16 weeks. The first certification you will receive is known as an Initial Certificate and is valid for three years. After you have submitted your application you can monitor its progress on the Department of Education’s RIDEmap Portal.
Step 4. Maintain and Develop Your Rhode Island Teaching Certification
The Rhode Island Department of Education believes in performance-based incentives, and therefore relies on its Local Educator Evaluation System as a basis for determining teacher promotion and advancement. Part of its wider Model Teacher Evaluation and Support System, this evaluation system identifies the ideal traits a math teacher ought to have and objectively evaluates your performance using these as a basis. The three primary areas on which you will be assessed are:
- Your student’s learning achievements
- Your demonstration of professional practice
- How effectively you manage your professional responsibilities
Each school year you will develop a professional growth model that includes concrete goals and how you plan to measure progress towards, and accomplish these. Three times a year you will meet with a team of mentoring professionals at your school to discuss your professional growth model. The meetings will explore your goals, your progress in accomplishing these, and finally the end result. At the final meeting you will be scored on the progress of your goals by your mentoring professionals based on the following scale:
- Highly effective
If your score is Developing or Ineffective, your mentoring professionals will devise a specific plan of improvement you must follow to raise your performance. To find out more information the Department of Education provides detailed resources on the Rhode Island Model Evaluation and Support System.
Renewal and Advancement of Your Teaching Certification
After three years of teaching math with your Initial Educator Certificate you will be eligible to upgrade your certification to a Professional Certificate, which is valid for five years. However to do this you will need to have earned at least an Effective score over the past three years on your Local Educator Evaluation System. If you scored a “Developing” score once you can still upgrade to a Professional Certificate if you demonstrate you are working to improve your score.
To be eligible to upgrade your Professional Certificate to the next level, an Advanced Certificate, you will need to meet two requirements:
- Have held a Professional Certificate for at least five years
- Have received a “Highly Effective” score in your Local Educator Evaluation System at least four times
National Board Certification
The Rhode Island Department of Education recognizes National Board Certification as signifying a teacher who stands above the rest. As a math teacher, there are two levels of National Board Certification you can apply for, depending on the grades you instruct:
National Board Certification is managed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an independent organization that is active across the country. Gaining this certification requires you to submit four portfolios over the course of a school year that are filled with information demonstrating your teaching effectiveness and professionalism. You will also need to complete a series of six testing-center evaluations.