Licensure Advancement: Rhode Island

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal is reorganized for 2021.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Licensure Advancement: Rhode Island results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Rhode Island's policies

Evidence of Effectiveness: Rhode Island's requirements for licensure advancement and renewal are not based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. 

Advancing to a Professional License: To advance from the initial educator certificate to the professional educator certificate, Rhode Island now requires teachers to complete the equivalent of 30 professional learning units annually. To advance to the optional advanced certificate in Rhode Island's three-tier system, teachers must, in addition to professional learning units, achieve one aspirational benchmark, such as National Board Certification, an advanced degree, or achieve certification in a limited number of shortage areas. 

Renewing a Professional License: Professional learning is required for the renewal of certificates. Teachers renewing the professional or advanced certificate are required to complete the equivalent of 20 professional learning units annually. Final effectiveness rating are no longer required as a condition of renewal. 


Recommendations for Rhode Island

Require evidence of effectiveness as a part of teacher licensing policy.
Rhode Island should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license.

Discontinue licensure requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.
Although some targeted requirements may potentially expand teacher knowledge and improve teacher practice, Rhode Island's general, nonspecific coursework requirements for license advancement and renewal merely call for teachers to complete a certain amount of seat time. These requirements do not correlate with teacher effectiveness.

End requirement tying teacher advancement to master's degrees.
Rhode Island should remove its option for teachers to obtain a master's degree for license advancement. Research is clear that a master's degree generally does not have any significant correlation with classroom performance. Rather, advancement should be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

State response to our analysis

Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Updated: March 2021

How we graded

9A: Licensure Advancement

  • Evidence of Effectiveness for Advancement: 
  • The state should require evidence of effectiveness to be considered as a factor for advancement from an initial to a professional license.
  • Evidence of Effectiveness for Renewal: 
  • The state should require evidence of effectiveness to be considered as a factor for licensure renewal.
Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it requires evidence of effectiveness to be considered as a factor for both required advancement from an initial to a professional license, as well as renewal of that license. Evidence of effectiveness must include objective measures of student growth.

One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point for any of the following scenarios:  (1) It requires evidence of effectiveness to be considered as a factor for required advancement from an initial to a professional license, or for renewal of that license. For states with one standard license, one-half credit will be awarded if renewal of that license requires evidence of effectiveness to be considered. (2) It requires evidence of effectiveness to be considered as a factor to earn or renew an optional advanced teacher license. (3) It explicitly allows the consideration of evidence of effectiveness for required advancement from an initial to a professional license, and for renewal of that license.

One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it considers teacher performance in advancement and/or renewal, but this consideration does not rise to the level of evidence of effectiveness.

Research rationale

The reason for probationary licensure should be to determine teacher effectiveness. Most states grant new teachers a probationary license that must later be converted to an advanced or professional license. A probationary period is sound policy as it provides an opportunity to determine whether individuals merit professional licensure. However, very few states require any determination of teacher performance or effectiveness in deciding whether a teacher will advance from the probationary license. Instead, states generally require probationary teachers to fulfill a set of requirements to receive advanced certification. Therefore, ending the probationary period is based on whether a checklist has been completed rather than on teacher performance and effectiveness.

Most state requirements for achieving professional certification have not been shown to affect teacher effectiveness.[1] Unfortunately, not only do most states fail to connect advanced certification to actual evidence of teacher effectiveness, but also the requirements teachers must most often meet are not even related to teacher effectiveness. The most common requirement for professional licensure is completion of additional coursework, often resulting in a master's degree. Requiring teachers to obtain additional training in their teaching area would be meaningful; however, the requirements are usually vague, allowing the teacher to fulfill coursework requirements from long menus that include areas having no connection or use to the teacher in the classroom.[2] The research evidence on requiring a master's degree is quite conclusive: with rare exceptions, these degrees have not been shown to make teachers more effective.[3] This is likely due in no small part to the fact that teachers may not attain master's degrees in their subject areas.

In addition to their dubious value, these requirements may also serve as a disincentive to teacher retention. Talented probationary teachers may be unwilling to invest time and resources in more education coursework. Further, they may well pursue advanced degrees that facilitate leaving teaching.

[1] For studies observing various trends in student achievement and licensure requirements, see: Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2004). Teacher sorting, teacher shopping, and the assessment of teacher effectiveness. Duke University manuscript., which is the previous draft of the current paper entitled: Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2006). Teacher-student matching and the assessment of teacher effectiveness. Journal of human Resources, 41(4), 778-820. Retrieved from; Ladd, H. F., Clotfelter, C. T., & Vigdor, J. L. (2007). How and why do teacher credentials matter for student achievement? (NBER Working Paper 142786). Retrieved from; Ehrenberg, R. G., & Brewer, D. J. (1994). Do school and teacher characteristics matter? Evidence from high school and beyond. Economics of Education Review, 13(1), 1-17.; Goldhaber, D., & Anthony, E. (2007). Can teacher quality be effectively assessed? National Board Certification as a signal of effective teaching. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 89(1), 134-150.; Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (1997). Why don't schools and teachers seem to matter? Assessing the impact of unobservables on educational productivity. Journal of Human Resources, 505-523. Retrieved from; Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school teacher certification status and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22(2), 129-145.; Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2006). Teacher quality. Handbook of the Economics of Education, 2, 1051-1078. Retrieved from; Rivkin, S. G., Hanushek, E. A., & Kain, J. F. (2005). Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417-458. Retrieved from; Harris, D., & Sass, T. R. (2006). Value-added models and the measurement of teacher quality (Unpublished manuscript). Retrieved from; Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2011). Teacher training, teacher quality and student achievement. Journal of Public Economics, 95(7), 798-812. Retrieved from; Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2009). The effects of NBPTS‐certified teachers on student achievement. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 28(1), 55-80. Retrieved from; Jepsen, C. (2005). Teacher characteristics and student achievement: Evidence from teacher surveys. Journal of Urban Economics, 57(2), 302-319.; Monk, D. H. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13(2), 125-145.; Riordan, J. (2006, April). Is there a relationship between No Child Left Behind indicators of teacher quality and the cognitive and social development of early elementary students? In annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA. Retrieved from; Schneider,B. (1985). Further evidence of school effects. Journal of Educational Research, 78(6), p. 351-356.
[2] For evidence on the lack of correlation between education coursework and teacher effectiveness, see: Allen, M. B. (2003). Eight questions on teacher preparation: What does the research say? Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from
[3] For a meta-analysis of the research on the relationship between advanced degrees and teacher effectiveness, see: Doherty, K., Walsh, K., Jacobs, S., & Neuman-Sheldon, B. (2010). Arizona's race to the top: What will it take to compete? Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from; For secondary math teachers however, a relevant master's degree is associated with greater teacher effectiveness, see: Walsh, K., Lubell, S., & Ross, E. (2017, August). Backing the wrong horse: The story of one state's ambitious but disheartening foray into performance pay. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from