Government Job Profile: Director of Curriculum and Instruction

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Directors of curriculum and instruction oversee the educational aspects of a school district. This includes selecting curricula, monitoring student performance data, training and evaluating teachers, and keeping the superintendent and the school board informed on these issues. Depending on the size of the district, this position may be classified at the assistant superintendent level.

The Selection Process

Directors of curriculum and instruction are selected using the normal government hiring process. While panel interviews may be employed during the process, they are ultimately hired by the position’s supervisor which may be the superintendent or an assistant superintendent.

The Education and Experience You'll Need

School districts almost always require directors of curriculum and instruction to hold a master’s degree, preferably in education. These directors must possess an administrator certificate from the state government. By the time someone is ready to move into this type of position, they almost certainly have teaching experience, so candidates have teaching certificates as well.

This job is not a person’s first position in a school district’s central office. Candidates should have several years of experience in school district administration. Candidates with experience as a curriculum specialist have an advantage in hiring. Curriculum specialists are more likely to promote into director positions if they have supervisory experience.

What You'll Do

Directors of curriculum and instruction manage curriculum specialists and instructional technology staff. Curriculum specialists guide the selection of textbooks and other instructional materials, provide feedback to teachers on their performance and help them incorporate instructional technology into their lessons. Instructional technology staff maintain instructional hardware and software and help teachers troubleshoot technical problems.

School districts need procedures to guide the selection of textbooks and other instructional materials. The director of curriculum and instruction develops these procedures and ensures they are followed. A good curriculum adoption process includes significant input from teachers since they will be the ones delivering the content. Curriculum specialists should do as much work as possible during this process so that it does not overburden teachers.

Directors are responsible for long-range planning regarding the functions they supervise. For directors of curriculum and instruction, this means looking out several years to prioritize the work of curriculum specialists and instructional technology staff.

Long-range planning also includes breaking down long-term goals into milestones that can be achieved over the coming few years. For example, a school district may want to provide more college credit opportunities for high school students. This is a project that requires at least a year and probably a few years of preparatory work. The director of curriculum and instruction must break this project down into sequential pieces so that the goal of providing more college credit opportunities can be achieved.

Directors of curriculum and instruction establish and oversee quality assurance and continuous improvement processes. This includes establishing protocols for curriculum specialists to provide feedback to teachers on their teaching performance, analyzing relevant data and administering professional development programs to strengthen teachers.

The federal government and state governments impose standards on school districts to ensure districts provide a minimum level of education to their students. Directors of curriculum and instruction ensure their districts meet externally imposed standards. Interest groups may also publish standards, but these standards do not have the force of law like government-imposed standards. These groups may say bad things about districts that do not meet their standards, but districts are not obligated to measure up to what non-governmental entities require.

One of the primary ways that federal and state governments ensure standards are met is by testing students at certain points along their educational careers. These tests come with their own testing procedures. Directors of curriculum and instruction ensure that these procedures are followed. They help principals plan how the procedures will be implemented at each campus.

Ideally, each student passes these exams and one day, graduates. High schoolers have an array of courses available to them. While they can take pretty much any course they want, they must keep in mind the graduation requirements that the school board has adopted. Directors of curriculum and instruction develop graduation requirements for adoption by the school board. These requirements must conform to state and federal regulations.​

Directors of curriculum and instruction prepare presentations and reports for school board meetings. These may be delivered by the superintendent, assistant superintendent or the director of curriculum and instruction. The content must be clear and concise. School board members tend to be intelligent people, but few are experts in education.

Directors of curriculum and instruction assist in the development of the school district budget, usually focusing on planning expenses for curriculum and instruction. They must plan and prioritize expenses within their allowed budgets. They also advocate for a larger share of the budget when they feel that they cannot meet their goals within existing or planned resources.

What You'll Earn

The salary for this position varies greatly across school districts. Positions within larger districts or with wider spans of control earn more than positions within smaller districts or those with fewer people within the position’s the line of supervision.