Implementing an effective curriculum plan is critical for giving teachers the structure for delivering high-quality education that enlightens students’ minds. School districts typically create their own curriculum that outlines classroom activities, core standards, and expected learning outcomes in a measureable manner. It’s becoming increasingly common for K-12 districts to hire a director of curriculum to oversee every aspect of developing, assessing, and modifying the road map for teachers. It’s their duty to work with other school administrators to outline what knowledge and skills must be taught at every grade level. Curriculum directors make certain that the district’s curriculum meets all state or federal education requirements so that students perform well on standardized tests.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 231,800 education administrators, including directors of curriculum, working in the United States bring home a mean annual wage of $91,780. Curriculum directors employed by elementary and secondary schools earn slightly more at $91,990, but the highest paid work for local governments with an average salary of $92,580 each year.
When just being promoted as director of curriculum, it’s likely that you’ll land in the bottom 10th percentile of earnings with a yearly salary around $59,250. While this is decent, it’s important to remember that senior curriculum directors with years of teaching experience often break the six-figure salary mark later in their career and make over $129,300 annually.
A director of curriculum has the primary responsibility of improving the quality of education delivered in the district’s schools by overseeing curricula and teaching standards. Directors will coordinate instructional materials, supervise its implementation by teachers, and assess the curriculum’s overall effectiveness in training students. On a typical day, curriculum directors could be found observing teachers’ instruction, analyzing test data, assessing education standards, reviewing textbooks, recommending instructional techniques, arranging professional development workshops, developing assessments, and responding to teachers’ questions. Some may act as assistant superintendents of instruction and attend regular school board meetings to recommend curricular changes.
Working as a curriculum director will require that you possess strong analytical skills for evaluating teaching strategies and instructional materials before selecting the right curriculum. Being a skilled communicator is a must since the director of curriculum needs to clearly explain curriculum changes to teachers and administrators. Decision-making and problem-solving abilities are important for curriculum directors to find innovative solutions for improving student performance. The director of curriculum should have the pedagogical skills to mentor teachers on effective techniques for educating youth and managing the classroom environment. Having the technical skills to utilize today’s latest educational technology advancements in the district’s curriculum is also important.
Degree and Education Requirements
Being promoted to the director of curriculum typically requires candidates to possess at least a master’s degree from an accredited college. It’s advised that aspiring curriculum directors pursue an undergraduate major in elementary, middle, secondary, or special education. Majoring in a content area like mathematics or history and minoring in secondary education could be feasible too. From there, you’ll need to apply to graduate schools for receiving a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Make certain you take courses related to learning theory, curriculum development, educational assessment, school leadership, and instructional technology. Going on to a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or Ph.D. in Education could further open jobs as principal or school superintendent.
Pros and Cons of this Position
Like any other education career, being the curriculum director will provide a range of rewards and challenges you should be aware of. On the plus side, the director of curriculum has the unique opportunity to indirectly help students learn without leading daily classroom activities. Designing a curriculum is intellectually stimulating work for individuals who enjoy putting together pieces of the education puzzle. Curriculum directors play a variety of roles, so no two days are alike. High salary potential and good job growth also make the role of director of curriculum appealing for former teachers. However, curriculum directors spend a considerable amount of time traveling between schools in their district. The job runs year-round, so there’s no summer vacation to look forward to. A director of curriculum may deal with backlash from teachers not receptive to curricular changes, which can be stressful.
Having an appropriate amount of classroom teaching experience is essential for anyone looking to become the director of curriculum. While earning your degree, maximize classroom time during field practicum and student teaching to learn about curriculum design. At graduation, you’ll need to pass the Praxis exams and fulfill your state’s other requirements for teacher certification. It’s recommended that future curriculum directors receive at least 18 months of teaching experience before pursuing their master’s degree. Taking on an internship shadowing a curriculum developer or instructional coordinator can be valuable. Gaining another five or more years of experience in curriculum design is usually required before becoming director. Working as a lead or head teacher would also qualify. Joining associations like the Instructional Designers Association (IDA) could be beneficial for professional networking too.
Since the Common Core State Standards Initiative, our nation has had a growing focus on the role of curriculum in improving students’ learning. Teachers are increasingly being held accountable for student’s test scores and achievements. Therefore, curriculum directors will be hired to improve curriculum and provide much-needed educator training. The BLS predicts that overall employment in curriculum development will grow slightly faster than average by 13 percent through 2022, thus creating 18,500 new jobs. Keep in mind that the director of curriculum stands at the curricular helm of the school district, so competition will be strong. Certain public urban or rural school districts could be held back by local and state government funding. Curriculum directors could also find jobs outside K-12 schools, such as universities, government agencies, educational support institutions, preschools, trade schools, and residential care facilities.
Overall, the director of curriculum is charged with evaluating the effectiveness of teaching guidelines establish by school boards in accordance with state regulations. Curriculum directors use their classroom experience and creativity to enhance the delivery of education for boosting student test scores. Although the director of curriculum works mostly with adults, their work can potentially impact the learning of hundreds to thousands of students. If you work towards becoming a director of curriculum, you’ll find the fulfilling opportunity to shape children’s academic, vocational, and social development into tomorrow’s citizens.