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Many instructional coordinators are former teachers or principals.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement, but a graduate degree is preferred.
The need to meet new educational standards will create more demand for instructional coordinators to train teachers and develop new materials.
Nature of the Work
Instructional coordinators, also known as curriculum specialists, staff development specialists, or directors of instructional material, play a large role in improving the quality of education in the classroom. They develop instructional materials, train teachers, and assess educational programs in terms of quality and adherence to regulations and standards. They also assist in implementing new technology in the classroom. Instructional coordinators often specialize in specific subjects, such as reading, language arts, mathematics, or social studies.
Instructional coordinators evaluate how well a school’s curriculum, or plan of study, meets students’ needs. They research teaching methods and techniques and develop procedures to determine whether program goals are being met. To aid in their evaluation, they may meet with members of educational committees and advisory groups to learn about subjects—English, history, or mathematics, for example—and to relate curriculum materials to these subjects, to students’ needs, and to occupations for which these subjects are good preparation. They also may develop questionnaires and interview school staff about the curriculum. Based on their research and observations of instructional practice, they recommend instruction and curriculum improvements.
Another duty instructional coordinators have is to review textbooks, software, and other educational materials and make recommendations on purchases. They monitor materials ordered and the ways in which teachers use them in the classroom. They also supervise workers who catalogue, distribute, and maintain a school’s educational materials and equipment.
Instructional coordinators develop effective ways to use technology to enhance student learning. They monitor the introduction of new technology, including the Internet, into a school’s curriculum. In addition, instructional coordinators might recommend installing educational computer software, such as interactive books and exercises designed to enhance student literacy and develop math skills. Instructional coordinators may invite experts—such as computer hardware, software, and library or media specialists—into the classroom to help integrate technological materials into a school’s curriculum.
Many instructional coordinators plan and provide onsite education for teachers and administrators. They may train teachers about the use of materials and equipment or help them to improve their skills. Instructional coordinators also mentor new teachers and train experienced ones in the latest instructional methods. This role becomes especially important when a school district introduces new content, program innovations, or a different organizational structure. For example, when a State or school district introduces standards or tests that must be met by students in order to pass to the next grade, instructional coordinators often must advise teachers on the content of the standards and provide instruction on implementing the standards in the classroom.
Instructional coordinators, including those employed by school districts, often work year round, usually in offices or classrooms. Some spend much of their time traveling between schools meeting with teachers and administrators. The opportunity to shape and improve instructional curricula and work in an academic environment can be satisfying. However, some instructional coordinators find the work stressful because the occupation requires continual accountability to school administrators and it is not uncommon for people in this occupation to work long hours.
Instructional coordinators held about 98,000 jobs in 2002. More than 1 in 3 worked in local government education. About 1 in 5 worked in private education, and about 1 in 10 worked in State government education. The remainder worked mostly in the following industries: individual and family services; child daycare services; scientific research and development services; and management, scientific, and technical consulting services.,
The minimum educational requirement for instructional coordinators is a bachelor’s degree, usually in education. Most employers, however, prefer candidates with a master’s or higher degree. Many instructional coordinators have training in curriculum development and instruction, or in a specific academic field, such as mathematics or history. Instructional coordinators must have a good understanding of how to teach specific groups of students, in addition to expertise in developing educational materials. As a result, many persons transfer into instructional coordinator jobs after working for several years as teachers. Work experience in an education administrator position, such as principal or assistant principal, also is beneficial. Specific requirements for instructional coordinator jobs vary depending on the particular position or school district. They may also vary by State.
Helpful college courses may include those in curriculum development and evaluation, instructional approaches, or research design, which teaches how to create and implement research studies to determine the effectiveness of a given method of curriculum or instruction, or to measure and improve student performance. Moreover, instructional coordinators usually are required to take continuing education courses to keep their skills current. Topics for continuing education courses may include teacher evaluation techniques, curriculum training, new teacher induction, consulting and teacher support, and observation and analysis of teaching.
Instructional coordinators must be able to make sound decisions about curriculum options and to organize and coordinate work efficiently. They should have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Familiarity with computer technology also is important for instructional coordinators, who are increasingly involved in gathering and coordinating technical information for students and teachers.
Depending on experience and educational attainment, instructional coordinators may advance to higher positions in a school system, or to management or executive positions in private industry.
Employment of instructional coordinators is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2012. Over the next decade, instructional coordinators will be instrumental in developing new curricula to meet the demands of a changing society and in training the teacher workforce. Although budget cuts, particularly in the near term, may negatively impact employment to some extent, a continuing emphasis on improving the quality of education is expected to result in a relatively steady and increasing demand for these workers. As increasing Federal, State and local standards impel more schools to focus on improving educational quality and student performance, growing numbers of coordinators will be needed to incorporate the standards into curriculums and make sure teachers and administrators are informed of the changes. Opportunities are expected to be best for those who specialize in subject areas that have been targeted for improvement by the No Child Left Behind Act—namely, reading, math, and science.
Instructional coordinators also will be needed to provide classes on using technology in the classroom, to keep teachers up-to-date on changes in their fields, and to demonstrate new teaching techniques. Additional job growth for instructional coordinators will stem from the increasing emphasis on lifelong learning and on programs for students with special needs, including those for whom English is a second language. These students often require more educational resources and consolidated planning and management within the educational system.
Median annual earnings of instructional coordinators in 2002 were $47,350. The middle 50 percent earned between $34,450 and $62,460. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,880, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,820.
Instructional coordinators are professionals involved in education and training and development, which requires organizational, administrative, teaching, research, and communication skills. Occupations with similar characteristics include preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers; postsecondary teachers; education administrators; counselors; and human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists.
Sources of Additional Information
Information on requirements and job opportunities for instructional coordinators is available from local school systems and State departments of education.
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