Rhode Island School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Library Media Specialist Endorsement

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: RIDE

Library studies add considerable value to the entire education process as learning is a continuous, lifelong process. Formative education years of pupils and students would not be complete unless they are educated in the art of media, research, and the use of technology to enhance the learning process. 

School librarians play an important role in helping children and teenagers in all grades in school to understand the importance of cultivating a healthy reading culture. Unless coached appropriately, they are likely to encounter some difficulty in leveraging the immense resources that libraries have to offer. Bearing importance of this nature, it is necessary for only the properly qualified and certified to assume the office of a school librarian. 

As a school librarian, you will be required to fulfill your traditional obligations as well as work together with other staff members and the students in support and promotion of the school’s ethics and ideals. Hence, you must be capable of adapting appropriately to changing trends in academics. An education that equips you with communication skills, as well as some hands-on experience teaching, is always a plus. 

Different states have different requirements for the certification of prospective school librarians. You will need to learn and understand what they are in Rhode Island if you wish to qualify for school librarian certification in Rhode Island.

Initial School Librarian Certification Procedure

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) oversees the certification process. This process ensures that only competent members of staff are employed in the school system. The initial licensing process involves obtaining a teaching license and adding a library endorsement to it. The first license that you will obtain is referred to as the “Initial Educator Certificate”. This license means that employment agencies and schools can give you an appropriate job in the schooling system. This initial certificate is valid for three years after which it must be renewed. To be fully certified as a school librarian, you must fulfill education, experience, and testing requirements as spelled out by RIDE. A background check is also included in the requirements.

Education Requirements

RIDE expects all applicants to comply with the educational requirements for the certification that they are applying for. As a prospective school librarian who will first be applying for an Initial Educator License, there are different pathways for doing this. The most direct is to undergo a state-approved educator preparation program. A bachelor’s or master’s degree through an approved program satisfies the fundamental educational requirement for certification. Check here for a list of Rhode Island-approved teacher training programs.

If you obtained your degree in a program or took part in some other educator preparatory program that has not been approved by the state, you can have your credentials reviewed. The credential review process applies particularly to applicants who hold foreign credentials. It is expected that these educational requirements reveal that you have the requisite knowledge for the job of a school librarian. Learn more about the educational requirements for licensure in Rhode Island here.

Experience Requirements

Having had experience teaching improves your value as a prospective school librarian. You will be teaching pupils and students about using the library and media materials to enhance their studying process. School librarians are expected to conversant with prevailing technology and referencing procedures in their institution. This means that you must be ready to adapt to the systems at play in your school.

If you obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an educator preparatory course, you certainly had some level of supervised/ student teaching. This is also expected for applicants who are getting certified after having completed approved teaching programs in Rhode Island. If you are transitioning from another field or educational background, you will be required to undergo a one-year internship/residency. Learn more about the experience requirements in section 1.6 C here.

Testing Requirements

In addition to your academic qualifications and experience, the certification process demands that every applicant for an initial educator certificate must take certain qualifying tests. RIDE uses the ETS® Praxis® tests. As a prospective school librarian you will be required to take two tests; a general educator test and a special one for your endorsement area (library and media)

The first test is the Principles of Learning and Teaching. This test has five variants for different grade sections. The test for Grade K – 6 (5622) is a common one taken. It lasts for 2 hours and the test fee is $156. The second test is the Library Media Specialist test (5311) which also lasts for 2 hours and costs $130. This test is the most important for your endorsement as a school librarian and the passing score is 162. You can access materials to prepare for the tests here. Learn how to register properly here.

If your bachelor’s, master’s, or other teaching program was done in a school where the primary language of tutelage is not English, you will be required to take an English Language Competency test as specified by RIDE. For more information, you can send an email to eqac@ride.ri.gov.

Background Checks

It is normal for background checks to be run on new additions to staff as this helps to reduce tragic occurrences. This is of even more importance when the nature of the schooling system is and how such occurrences can affect the lives of pupils and students. An inquiry will be made into your criminal, employment, and certification history to evaluate the kind of person you are.

RIDE will not process your applications for licensure unless you tender a valid attestation of good moral standing. Thorough background checks can be done by the FBI, Police, or other authorized agencies.  As long as you have not been a person of questionable character, the check should produce positive results. Certain traits such as sexual offenses and domestic violence are red flags that will surely be frowned at. For more information about how to go about background checks, you can send an email.

Application Process

The applications for licensure can be completed on forms or the RIDE portal here. The online alternative for registration is preferred now due to ease and the ongoing pandemic. You will be required to submit a couple of documents including;

  • Official transcripts for the Institution of Higher Learning where you obtained your degree (these must be endorsed by the registrar or any other authorized person and should be sent by the institution to RIDE)
  • Certificates of completion of an approved educator preparation program
  • Attestation to the degree, duration, and quality of experience that you have had
  • Results of the requisite Praxis tests that you took and an attestation to the fact that you passed
  • Results of an English Language Competency test if your academic credentials were awarded by an institution in which English is not the primary language of teaching
  • Attestation of character based on employment, criminal, and financial history
  • A document showing that your credentials have been reviewed and accepted, if you were awarded a degree from an unapproved institution

For the Initial Educator Certificate, you are required to pay a $100 processing fee and an additional $50 for each additional content area that will be included on the license. Your application will only be processed after all the required documents have been provided and you have paid the prescribed fees. For more information on the application process, contact RIDE at eqac@ride.ri.gov or (401) 222-4600.

Certification Renewal Procedure

The Initial Educator Certificate is valid for three years after which it must be renewed following the appropriate procedure. The renewal process is done online via the RIDE portal here. You are required to complete a prescribed number of professional learning units before your renewal application is considered valid. The required units for renewal for each year can be seen in the table on page 38 here. The units increase from 2020 (20 units) till 2025 (90 units).

Provided that you have completed the required units, you can either renew your Initial educator certificate for a three or five-year validity. If you are unable to complete the learning requirements, you will be unable to renew your license. However, you may be eligible for a Special Provisional Certificate.

Certification Reciprocity Process

Reciprocity allows you to be certified to practice in Rhode Island if you have been trained outside the state or hold a valid out-of-state license. There is an interstate flexibility agreement between Rhode Island and the following states; Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, District of Columbia, North Carolina, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and South Carolina. These agreements allow you to be certified to practice in Rhode Island without any other requirements. 

For other states, you will be required to complete an approved educator preparation program, take the qualifying Praxis tests, and a background check. You are also expected to have a minimum of three years of experience. The application for reciprocity is done via the RIDE portal. You will be required to submit your transcripts and other required documents. Your application for certification will only be processed after you have submitted all the required documents and paid the prescribed fee. For more information about the reciprocity process, contact RIDE at eqac@ride.ri.gov or (401) 222-4600.