Curriculum and instruction development is a vital area of focus and improvement for today’s educational systems. Earning an online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I), such as the one offered by Eastern Washington University, can open up many interesting career paths for the modern educator.
Educators with their M.Ed. in C&I often assume higher-level positions within a school as curriculum specialists, curriculum directors, instructional coordinators and the like. C&I professionals also work in various positions at the district level. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth in C&I-related positions to be faster than the nationwide job growth average.
C&I Leadership Positions in Schools
Many, if not most, schools now have specialized C&I positions. C&I personnel work in many capacities, under many different titles — the most common being curriculum coordinators, curriculum directors, curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators and instructional coaches.
Larger schools may employ C&I personnel in all of these positions as a hierarchy from the administrative/leadership level of coordinators and directors to the more direct/implementation-based positions of specialists and instructional coordinators. Smaller schools may employ fewer C&I personnel or even a single specialist/coordinator who oversees all aspects of C&I design and implementation.
What Do Curriculum Coordinators and Directors Do?
As the titles imply, curriculum coordinators and directors work in a leadership-focused supervisory role. They design curricula which align with state standards as well as school-specific learning objectives and directives. They outline what is to be taught and how it will be taught — the content and instructional methods used to help students learn. These instructional techniques vary greatly according to a school’s pedagogy along with the specific, diverse learning needs of that school’s student body.
Educators in C&I leadership roles need to stay up-to-date with current educational research, trends and innovation in areas like educational technology integration, culturally responsive education, and differentiation in instruction and learning. These areas of educational development should be considered when developing a school’s C&I design. This also involves taking input from teachers, students, parents and the wider community when devising culturally responsive C&I.
In addition, C&I leadership personnel oversee how curricula and instructional methodology are put into practice by curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators, teacher leaders and teachers. They facilitate appropriate training and professional development for educators while also providing teachers with necessary materials and resources.
C&I coordinators and directors assess both the effectiveness of teacher performance in implementing C&I design as well as the effectiveness of the C&I itself. They adjust C&I design, training and performance standards accordingly with the end goal of maximizing student learning and achievement in school and beyond.
Salaries for C&I personnel in these leadership roles within schools vary greatly depending on region. PayScale reports the median annual salary for curriculum directors to be $74,023 (December 2019).
C&I Personnel in Districtwide Supervisory Roles
C&I personnel also work in leadership roles at the school district level as assistant superintendent for C&I, director of C&I, or director of curriculum development. They oversee districtwide C&I design, supervising and assisting C&I staff in the district’s schools. They set districtwide standards for C&I design and implementation and evaluate school-specific variances in C&I by teacher performance and student achievement (and experience).
Glassdoor reports the average 2017 base pay for directors of curriculum and instruction was $76,688 per year (based on a very small sample size). But, again, salaries vary drastically by region. For instance, annual salaries of assistant superintendents for C&I in certain NY districts are upwards of $200,000.
What Do Curriculum Specialists, Instructional Coordinators and Instructional Coaches Do?
In some schools, curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators and instructional coaches may carry all of the responsibilities of the above leadership roles. In others, the curriculum specialists and instructional coordinators focus more on implementation, working as a bridge between administration and teachers to ensure C&I design is put into practice effectively. This involves taking input from teachers, assisting in C&I design, developing instructional materials, disseminating C&I information to teachers (along with implementation standards and expectations), and assessing the results.
Along with curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators and coaches organize and facilitate teacher training and development. It is their responsibility to make sure teachers have everything they need to implement C&I design successfully, from content and instructional knowledge to instructional materials and technologies. According to the BLS, instructional coordinators made $64,450 per year in 2018.
Clearly, there are many growing job opportunities for educators with a master’s in C&I from the school to district administrator level. Educators can enjoy rewarding careers in these roles by making a substantial difference in the quality of education and student learning in their schools.
Learn more about EWU’s online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction program.