How to Become a Physical Education Teacher in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education is in charge of creating the rules and regulations for the certification of PE teachers in the state. The Board of Regents completed a comprehensive overhaul of the old standards for certification and in 2012 streamlined this process to make it clearer for prospective PE teachers while also ensuring PE students across the state can continue to expect a high level of professionalism from their instructors.

As you complete the requirements to become a PE teacher, you will work the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Office of Educator Quality and Certification to ensure you meet all qualifications.

The following steps will prepare you to become a PE teacher in Rhode Island:

Complete a PE Teaching Degree and Educator Program
Pass the Required Tests for PE Certification in Rhode Island
Apply for a Rhode Island PE Teaching Certificate
Renew and Upgrade Your PE Teaching Certificate



Step 1. Complete a PE Teaching Degree and Educator Program

The most direct path to become a PE teacher in Rhode Island starts with completing a bachelor’s degree to become certified as an “All Grades Physical Education Teacher.” There are currently two state institutions of higher education offering this as a major. This will include an educator preparation program approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Your physical education studies will contain courses such as:

  • Psychology of movement
  • Human biology
  • Kinesiology
  • Motor skill development
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Sports and dance
  • Developing habits of nutrition and exercise
  • Sports injury

Educator preparation programs that are approved by NCATES (National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education) may also be approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education. When selecting an in-state educator preparation program, make sure it is for an “All Grades Physical Education Teacher.”

The All Grades PE Teacher educator prep program will include a curriculum that focuses on:

  • Development of stimulating PE lesson plans
  • PE student progress assessment and development
  • Pedagogy for students in K-12th grade
  • Psychology of physical education
  • Teaching PE students with disabilities

As you advance in your educator preparation program you will begin to acquire PE teacher field experience. This will help to prepare you for at least 12 weeks of student teaching. At this point you will be paired with an experienced PE teacher where you will act as both a classroom assistant and leader. You will be responsible for directing PE activities, developing lesson plans, and adapting these according to feedback from your supervising PE teacher.

Alternative Route to Certification

If you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in a major field of study that is closely related to physical education but have not completed an educator preparation program, you have three options:

  • Gain entrance into one of Rhode Island’s PE educator preparation programs
  • Gain entrance into one of Rhode Island’s two alternative educator preparation programs:

In some cases you may avoid taking a PE teacher preparation program if you have a requisite number of similar courses as determined through a transcript analysis or credential review. In this case you may also avoid mandatory student teaching if you already have at least two years of PE teaching experience.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Teachers

If you are moving to Rhode Island from out-of-state, you will not have to complete a Rhode Island educator preparation program if you can provide one of the following:

  • Proof of completion of a PE education preparation program approved by your home state within the past five years
  • Proof that you are currently a certified PE teacher in your home state
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Step 2. Pass the Required Tests for PE Certification

There are two tests administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) that you must pass to become a physical education teacher in Rhode Island.

  • Principles of Learning and Teaching
  • Physical Education: Content Knowledge

The Principles of Learning and Teaching exam evaluates your fundamental knowledge of pedagogy and best teaching practices. Questions on this assessment are in multiple-choice and constructed-response format, dealing with five key subject areas:

  • Analysis of instructional scenarios
  • Instructional process
  • Students as learners
  • Professional development and community leadership
  • Student and teacher assessments

This exam is offered at two different levels, and you should choose the one that best corresponds to your career goals:

The Physical Education: Content Knowledge Exam assess the depth of your knowledge when it comes to teaching PE. ETS has published a study guide to help you prepare for this test, which is comprised of 120 multiple-choice questions to be completed in two hours. Questions are drawn from four primary subject areas:

  • Student growth and development; content knowledge
  • Management, communication, and motivation
  • Planning, student assessment, and instruction
  • Reflection, collaboration, and technology



Step 3. Apply for a Rhode Island PE Teaching Certificate

The first certification you will apply for is the Initial Educator Certificate. Make sure to indicate your teacher certification area code as:

  • 11507 – All Grades Physical Education Teacher, Grades PK-12

Once you have completed your application, mail it and the following items to the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Office of Educator Quality and Certification in Providence at 255 Westminster Street on the 4th floor, zip code 02903-3400:

  • ETS test scores
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended
  • Application fee of $100
  • Teaching certifications from other states, if applicable

Once you submit your application for certification as a PE teacher, expect to wait between 14-16 weeks for approval. If you apply in the summer this time may double, so it is best if you plan ahead. You can check the status of your application online through the Rhode Island Department of Education’s RIDEmap Portal. After you receive your new certificate you will have met all the requirements for PE teacher jobs in Rhode Island. Your Initial Educator Certificate is valid for three years



Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your PE Teaching Certificate

You can renew your PE teaching certificate starting January 1st in the year it expires. Once you have attained an Initial Certificate, your professional progression as a PE teacher will be based on your performance, with the possibilities of upgrading to a Professional Certificate and finally an Advanced Certificate.

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After three years you can use the same application form you used initially to apply for an upgraded 5-year Professional Educator Certificate for a cost of $200, provided you meet these conditions:

  • Scored well three times over three years in your school district’s local educator evaluation system, with at least a score of “Effective.”
  • If you scored a “Developing” on one of these three evaluations you are still eligible for a Professional Certificate if you take steps to improve yourself and submit proof of this

After five years of holding a Professional Certificate, you will be eligible to upgrade this to an Advanced Certificate, provided you have received five reviews in your local educator evaluation system, with four of these reviews being deemed, “Highly Effective.”

Local Educator Evaluation System

The local educator evaluation system is a key part of Rhode Island Model Teacher Evaluation and Support System that is designed to be the most effective tool for teacher improvement. This evaluation system will assess your teaching abilities in three key areas:

  • Professional practice
  • Professional responsibilities
  • Student learning

In each of these areas you will receive a score on the scale of:

  • Ineffective – low performance with a low or negative impact on students
  • Developing – inconsistent or moderate performance
  • Effective – consistently strong performance with a positive impact on students
  • Highly effective – outstanding performance with a high level of professional responsibility and impact on student development

You scores in these three aspects will be combined to give you an overall rating according to this scale.

At the beginning of each school year you will develop a professional growth model that will include the following:

  • At least one concrete goal you plan to accomplish
  • Ways you plan to improve based on previous evaluations
  • Clear benchmarks for how you will measure success
  • Alignment with PE teacher professional standards and practices

Each year there will be three conferences where your school’s supervisors (principal or assistant principals) and classroom observers will discuss your performance. The first conference is in the fall, and will be where you present your professional growth plan. The second is in the winter, and at this conference you will be able to modify your professional growth plan if needed. Finally you will be scored during your third conference in spring based on your overall performance and achievements as outlined in your professional growth plan.

If you receive a score of “Developing” or less, your supervisors will devise a performance improvement plan that will be put in place to help you improve.

For a thorough understanding of the Rhode Island Model Evaluation and Support System, the Department of Education has created a useful teacher’s guidebook.

Phys Ed Teacher Salary in Rhode Island

Although neither the U.S. Department of Labor nor the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training have statistics available regarding an average or median Rhode Island PE teacher salary, we can look at local salary schedules to get an idea of how PE teachers are paid in Rhode Island.

Shown here is the salary schedule provided by the Providence Public School District on which PE teachers are paid:

Step 1: $38,872
Step 2: $40,782
Step 3: $42,966
Step 4: $45,778.
Step 5: $49,491
Step 6: $53,257
Step 7: $56,758
Step 8: $60,471
Step 9: $63,760
Step 10: $66,837
Step 11: $69,489
Step 12: $73,270

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