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What is a Curriculum Specialist?

By Cathy Rogers
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A curriculum specialist, also known as an instructional coordinator, has a variety of duties related to educational curriculum. He or she assesses educational programs, selects textbooks and instructional technology, trains teachers and sometimes develops curricula. Job duties commonly include evaluation, monitoring and research.

The primary role of a curriculum specialist is to assess how effectively a curriculum meets the students’ needs. To evaluate this effectiveness, a specialist often meets with advisory committees and school staff. Sometimes, he or she is authorized to review and recommend texts, educational software and other equipment. Another component of the position might be to relate a curriculum to applicable occupations. Other job titles for a someone in this position include staff development specialist or director of instructional material.

Most curriculum specialists have an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, and in public school systems, they must be licensed. The licensing varies by state; some states require a teaching license, while others require an educational administrator license. Anyone who wants to work in this job must be trained in curriculum development and instruction, and many choose to specialize in a particular subject area.

Because of their expertise of subject matter, classroom teachers sometimes transfer into the curriculum field after several years of experience. Some educational administrators, such as school principals, also move into the role. Curriculum specialists will continue to update their education, as do teachers. Continuing education topics include areas of evaluation, analysis, consulting and observation.

There are many options when it comes to type of employment. Approximately 40% of specialists work for public school systems, and another 20% work in private schools. The remainder work for state governments, consulting companies, family service providers and other similar agencies. Many curriculum specialists work fairly long hours and often travel between schools and administrative offices; however, the earnings for this field are generally higher than teacher salaries.

One of the fastest growing areas in the curriculum specialist field is training teachers to use technology in the classroom. Other areas of growth include curricula for special needs students, English as a Second Language students and continuing education. Because of the constantly changing regulations and standards required for education, the curriculum specialist track will continue to be a growing field.

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Discussion Comments
By anon196695 — On Jul 15, 2011

As has already been said, the lesson plan facilitates the implementation of curriculum. This is possible through the teachers' efforts and consideration of other variables like methods, instructional materials, progressive evaluation and relevant summary and correction of learners areas of difficulties. All of these are classroom aspects of curriculum implementation based on the intended learning outcomes (I.L.O.)

By SauteePan — On Feb 16, 2011

Cupcake15 - In my opinion the instructional specialist should have some input regarding a change in curriculum.

Teacher’s input is very important when choosing to enhance or discard an existing curriculum because they are the ones that have to implement it.

Some of the things that they try to consider is how well the curriculum prepares children to proceed to the subsequently levels. Another thing to consider is how much time is the teacher lecturing as opposed to the children working.

If the teacher is lecturing for long blocks of time, the curriculum may not be as effective because children generally can’t sit still that long so a lot of the information in the lecture will be lost.

An interactive curriculum is more effective because it engages children from the beginning and keeps them interested.

By cupcake15 — On Feb 14, 2011

Latte31 - I think that curriculum design is one of the most important aspects of designing a quality education.

The curriculum design should closely align itself with the school’s objectives which will work best. When my children were younger the elementary school that they attended changed their reading program completely.

They wanted a program that was more comprehensive that included a writing component. They switched to a program called “Super Kids” that not only offered phonics instruction, but it provided rich stories of many characters that allowed the children to read at a much faster pace.

In addition there were written assignments daily that allowed the children to develop their writing skills which were the main objective that the school had.

They really wanted to improve the writing performance of their students because it appeared weaker than similarly situated schools.

They also used the themes in the reading program and combined it with social studies and computer lessons so that the knowledge would be cemented better.

By latte31 — On Feb 13, 2011

Anon31135 - I think that means that the teacher breaks down the curriculum by week and includes daily lesson plans in order to meet the weekly goal.

For example, in Saxon Math curriculums it will have the topics covered for the week along with individual homework and classroom worksheets. In addition, after every five lessons there is a built in test that is administered to the students.

There are also computation drills as well as a set of manipulatives that go with the curriculum for grades kindergarten to third grade. While this program is highly scripted some are not.

Most curriculums offer a set of instructions on how to implement the program in a school setting. It includes milestones and goals to be achieved. The teacher may have some flexibility on how the curriculum is taught.

For example, a teacher may implement a project based on the students’ favorite character in a literature study. This allows the teacher to go more in depth with the curriculum by offering supplemental exercises like this.

All teachers have a lesson plan book and usually have to submit their lesson plans to their principal in advance. A curriculum map helps teachers determine how to go about teaching the curriculum.

By anon31135 — On Apr 30, 2009

Can someone explain implementing the curriculum into a lesson plan? I need the answer in detail please.

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