Become a Special Education Teacher in Rhode Island

Special education teachers have to fulfill a few requirements in Rhode Island before they can begin teaching in their own classrooms. Discover what is necessary to become a special education teacher in Rhode Island, including degree requirements and the exams that must be taken. Schools offering Emotional & Behavioral Disorders degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information for Rhode Island Special Education Teachers

If you plan to teach special education students in Rhode Island, you will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the subject. You can complete a student teaching component and take the appropriate Praxis exams before you begin a career in special education.

Education/Experience RequiredBachelor's degree (usually coupled with major in elementary education)
Teacher education program
Exams RequiredPraxis Principles of Learning and Teaching
Praxis Content Exams in Special Education
Certificate ValidityThree years for initial certification
Certificate ExtensionRenewable if you have not spent three whole years as a teacher
Average Rhode Island Special Education Teacher Salary (2018)$74,600 for high school,
$70,990 for middle school, and
$70,720 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers*
National Job Growth (2016-2026)7% for kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school special education teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

As a special education teacher, you can instruct students with a variety of disabilities, which might include mental and physical special needs. Your lesson plans will adapt to their style of learning, and you can usually teach your students in a specific classroom that is separate from traditional students. Your curriculum will be adjusted and combines many subjects into one school day. You will have to keep in regular contact with your students' parents to inform them of in-class progress and any changes in behavior. Throughout the day, you can supervise your students in and out of the classroom, escorting them from the building when their parents or the bus arrives to take them home or drop them off.

Education and Training Requirements

To become a special education teacher, you will need to earn a degree in the field. One option is the Bachelor of Science in Special Education, which you might be able to combine with a major in elementary education. You can learn about the general curriculum that students up to sixth grade study in their classes, as well as foundations of teaching theory and methods. You could also further your education and earn a Master of Arts in Special Education, which might have options for either elementary education or secondary education. Before you complete the degree, you will start a student teaching semester. This component of the degree allows you to get firsthand experience in a classroom with the help of a certified educator before you begin teaching on your own.

Exam Requirements

Rhode Island has several Praxis exam requirements before you can apply for your teacher certification. All educators, special education included, must pass a Principles of Learning and Teaching exam, which has two categories: Grades K-6 and Grades 7-12. From there, you can determine the tests you need by the area of special education you will teach. For example, if you plan to teach visually impaired students in eighth grade, you would need to pass the Principles of Learning: Grades 7-12, Braille Proficiency, and Special Education: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments exams. As a teacher of fifth grade deaf students, you would need to complete the Principles of Learning: Grades K-6 and Special Education: Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students exams, and the ASL Proficiency Interview.

Certification Requirements

After you finish your exams and your teacher education program, you are ready to apply for a Rhode Island Initial Certificate. This credential will last for three years, but if you don't spend all three years as a teacher, you can apply for a renewal. The first certificate costs $100 for one certification area, and the cost is $50 for each additional certification. Once you are ready to move up to a Professional Certificate, you will need to complete 30 professional learning units (PLUs). The Professional Certificate is good for five years and can be renewed continuously with the required amount of PLUs, or you can upgrade further to the Advanced Certificate, which lasts for seven years.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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