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 (EWU), 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. Moreover, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects steady job growth in C&I-related positions. Specifically, demand for professionals such as instructional coordinators is projected to grow as schools “increasingly turn to instructional coordinators to develop better curriculums and improve teachers’ effectiveness.”
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 these positions as a hierarchy, from the administrative level of coordinators and directors to the more 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 that align with state standards and school-specific learning objectives and directives. They outline what will be taught and how— the content and instructional methods used to help students learn. These instructional techniques vary greatly according to a school’s pedagogy and the student body’s specific, diverse learning needs.
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 development should be considered when developing a school’s C&I design. Devising culturally responsive C&I also involves taking input from teachers, students, parents and the wider community.
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, professional development and opportunities for constructive self-reflection for educators while providing teachers with necessary materials, resources and support.
C&I coordinators and directors assess the effectiveness of teacher performance in implementing C&I design and the quality of the C&I itself. They adjust C&I design, training and performance standards accordingly to maximize student learning and achievement in school and beyond.
Salaries for C&I personnel in these leadership roles within schools vary greatly depending on the region. ZipRecruiter reports the average annual salary for directors of curriculum and instruction to be $72,127 as of February 2023.
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).
Salaries for district-level C&I leadership also vary drastically by region. For instance, annual base salaries of assistant superintendents for C&I in New York districts during the 2022-2023 school year range from about $125,000 to over $235,000.
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 role 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. They are responsible for ensuring 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 a median salary of $63,740 per year in 2021.
Clearly, there are many growing job opportunities for educators with a master’s in C&I from the school to the 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.