Curriculum Director  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotCurriculum directors supervise staff and organize special projects. These professionals work for school districts and universities. They might also work for organizations.

Those who work in this area may have varied job titles. Bruce Beairsto is an associate superintendent. He says "curriculum director" is not used in his area. They are known as assistant or associate superintendents.

Niels Hartvig-Nielsen is the program director for a computer training institute. He says private schools that offer computer training don't have "curriculum directors." They are known as program managers.

dotIn the U.S., individual school districts develop their own curriculum. They may be affected by differences in funding levels. Curriculum directors play a major role in the process. Institutions that provide professional training may have to meet clearly defined requirements in terms of curricula.

dotTrends in the field center around the role of technology. The delivery of training over the Internet is a popular topic. There is also an increasing trend toward industry-developed curriculum.

"We now use a wider array of resource materials than before," says Beairsto. "We try to present multiple perspectives to a topic. Also, the curriculum is broadening. We now teach lifestyle issues such as drug abuse, child abuse, sexual decision making. It's not just the three Rs anymore."

Susan Barkman is a professor of curriculum development at Purdue University. She agrees that the trend is definitely towards computer-based training. There are more interactive multimedia and web programs that are controlled by the learner. "There's a movement towards programs where the learner can control how fast they want to go," she says.

Barkman also notes that there's a move towards helping kids learn life skills while they learn about the subject matter. "They learn how to make decisions, how to communicate, problem solving skills -- those kinds of things."

dotWilliam Oros is the director of curriculum at Bethany Community School in Connecticut. He says the responsibility for staff training has increasingly become a part of the job.

"The curriculum director's position involves a number of things and one of them is dealing with the professional development of teachers," Oros says.

"As we get into an information age where ideas are more important than products, school systems have kind of lagged behind. But now, they are beginning to understand that you need someone to handle that aspect of things."

Oros says curriculum development is linked to training because any time there are changes in the curriculum, teachers need new training to help them adapt. So it's not hard to see why staff training has become part of the job description.

Curriculum directors may have to oversee different subject areas. Generally, there are four main subject areas -- mathematics, the language arts, social studies and the sciences.

dotCurriculum directors also ensure that the curriculum of their school is in synch with educational standards or expectations.

"If you happen to work for a school system, like I do, which feeds its youngsters into other school systems, then you need somebody to coordinate what's happening in the curriculum of your school with what's happening in the curriculum of the other schools you are feeding into," explains Oros.

dotThis job often calls for teamwork. The development and evaluation of curricula can never be undertaken alone and the curriculum director will need to learn to work with others.

dotThough you are likely to be employed by an educational institution if you want to work as a curriculum director, consultants also work in this field.

dotSpecial needs in the area of physical mobility should not stop you from pursuing this career. You will need good communication skills, though.

At a Glance

Design the programs students will study

  • You'll likely work for a school district or a university
  • Curriculum directors may also take care of teachers' professional development
  • A master's degree will make you more employable