Some states require teachers to earn a Master of Education (M.Ed.) once they start their first teaching job. Even if that does not apply to you, there are many reasons to take this educational step — including endorsements, career advancement and higher salaries, to name a few.
If you want to take a leadership role in creating positive change in education, the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) may be an ideal choice. This online program allows educators to customize their degree with one of four in-demand areas of focus: elementary education, reading, special education and English as a Second Language (ESL).
What Do C&I Specialists Do?
CareerExplorer describes C&I specialists as “the architects of education.” While they may go by different titles, C&I specialists share the end goal of optimizing student learning and achievement. They oversee content, instructional methods and technologies, student progress and assessment — while keeping an eye on improving systems and outcomes.
C&I specialists hold various leadership and administrative positions within schools, districts and other educational settings. Examples include:
- Curriculum coordinator (developer, director)
- Director of C&I
- Instructional coordinator (strategist)
- Assistant superintendent for C&I
- Department head
- Special education administrator (coordinator/director)
Which Area of Focus Is for You?
ULM offers educators the opportunity to tailor their degrees in C&I to a specific area of interest and gain specialized skills and the opportunity to add on an endorsement. An overview of these areas follows.
Elementary Education: This focus spans early childhood to advanced studies in math, science, social studies and language arts. Additional topics the specialization focuses on include:
- Classroom management and motivational techniques
- Curriculum development and mapping across grade levels
- Cognitive learning in the context of family and community
- Techniques and strategies for developing languages and teaching language skills to pre-school children
Reading: Reading ability is considered one of the strongest predictors of success in school and beyond. Educators pursuing this focus can make a lasting difference for many children. Topics include:
- Reading, writing, speaking and listening strategies in a balanced literacy program
- Critical theories and young adult (YA) literature
- Application of reading skills in secondary subject areas
- Diagnosis and correction of reading difficulties
- Special instructional needs in reading
Special Education: Comprehensive coursework equips candidates with the knowledge and skills to meet special education needs in preschool and K–12 settings. Topics include:
- Learning theories in information processing, instructional practices and motivation
- Effective behavior management and classroom organization
- Mentor teaching, with an emphasis on coaching and reflective practice
- Diagnostic and prescriptive processes for meeting special instructional needs, including in reading
- Trends, programs and teaching methods for preschool children who are at-risk for or have identified special needs
- Intervention and transition plans
- Curriculum development and instruction for meeting the needs of gifted students
English as a Second Language (ESL): According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 18.2 million children in the U.S. live with immigrant families. Many of these children are English learners (EL) whose first language is not English. A C&I focus in this area can help educators understand the challenges ELs face to maximize their potential. Topics in the specialization include:
- Theories and practical approaches for teaching English language learners at the elementary, secondary and adult education level
- Social and cultural aspects of language acquisition for ELs
- Research, policy and current practice for improving teaching and learning for ELs
- The role of culture in language learning and school achievement
What Is the Earning Potential in C&I?
Anyone considering an advanced degree may wonder how higher levels of education will impact their earnings. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, earning a master’s is “a certain path to a higher salary” for educators, with an average increase of about $5,000 annually. C&I specialists may enjoy an even greater bump.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, the median annual salary for C&I specialists in public and private schools is $75,840. This jumps to $78,900 for those in government roles. By comparison, the median annual for high school teachers is $61,820. Overall, the top 10% of C&I specialists earn more than $101,090.
In addition to giving students the option of four focus areas, this program also prepares students in Louisiana to add on a Teacher Leader endorsement and additional certifications. If your career goals include taking your leadership skills to the next level, ULM’s unique M.Ed. in C&I may be for you. Whether you specialize in elementary education, ESL or another area of focus, an M.Ed. in C&I will prepare you to drive positive change at the school and district level.