If you are a teacher thinking about advancing your career, leadership roles may come to mind. At this stage of your career, you may also consider National Board Certification, the “gold standard” in teacher certification.
Emporia State University’s Master of Science (M.S.) in Curriculum & Instruction (C&I) – National Board Certification PreK-12 online program can help you check both boxes. The program at Emporia State University (ESU) prepares PreK-12 education professionals for school and district leadership roles and also prepares candidates for National Board Certification.
ESU’s online format means students can earn their master’s while moving forward with classroom-based requirements for board certification, supported by the structure of ESU’s corresponding coursework.
What Is C&I?
C&I specialists make decisions about what students learn (curriculum), often based on state standards and how they learn it (instruction). While the two veins work together, they are not the same.
The Glossary of Education Reform defines learning standards as “concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education.” Standards are learning objectives for subject areas – curriculum details how students will achieve those goals.
The curriculum for an instructional program, such as first-grade math, will vary by district and state. But a standard curriculum for young learners typically includes the following elements:
- Educational philosophy: the values and beliefs that guide decisions about what and how children learn
- Learning goals and objectives, with standards alignment
- Plans for learning opportunities, such as lessons, projects, and assignments
- Instructional resources, such as lesson plans, relevant reading material, educational technologies (interactive whiteboards, gamification, podcasts, video-assisted learning, and so on), and supplemental programs
- Methods of assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative)
States may adopt existing standards such as the K–12 Next Generation Science Standards. While these state-wide guidelines impact curricula design, curriculum development teams within school districts typically design and develop curricula. These teams can include teachers, leaders, and C&I specialists.
What Are the Elements of C&I for Younger Learners?
Planning curriculum and instruction in the early primary grades requires knowledge of developmentally appropriate practice. For instance, the National Association for the Education of Young Children points out that young learners benefit from hands-on and differentiated learning experiences.
For example, educators often use math manipulatives in the early grades to make abstract concepts concrete. Older students will use their abstract reasoning to solve algebraic equations.
Similarly, reading C&I in the early grades focuses on increasing competence in foundational skills such as concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonics, word recognition, and fluency. Young learners build comprehension strategies alongside these skills. Guided reading is an instructional practice for differentiated learning.
Assessment is an area of C&I that can present challenges in the early grades. Formative assessments —such as gathering evidence through ongoing observation and documentation — are often the most useful. However complicated or variable assessment in C&I is, professionals must understand how assessment impacts decisions in C&I.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a cornerstone of early learning experiences as well. In recent years, SEL has expanded through the grades, with some districts implementing SEL curriculum. CASEL cites research-based benefits of SEL, including:
- improved academic performance
- improved classroom behavior
- reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
- higher levels of well-being
How Can ESU’s MS in C&I Prepare Professionals for National Board Certification?
National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential that signals the highest accomplishment for PreK-12 teachers. Nationally, schools and districts regard board-certified teachers as experts in their professional practice. Board-certified educators are a top choice for leadership roles.
As a clear sign of the demonstrated value of board certification, many states offer salary increases or annual stipends for board-certified teachers. As a result, teachers in high-need schools may be eligible for higher compensation levels. Some school districts also cover the cost of fees.
ESU’s M.S. in C&I program, focusing on national board certification, supports teachers in achieving National Board Certification as recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). National Board Certification courses include:
NBC Portfolio Development: This course guides teachers in meeting portfolio requirements, such as designing and implementing instruction to meet individual students’ needs. Teachers are also supported in preparing professional documentation.
NBC School Based Project I: This course provides professional support and guidance for teachers as they complete requirements related to differentiation in instruction.
NBC School Based Project II: This course focuses on two components of the certification process: Teaching Practice and Learning Environment and Assessments and Data and Professional Learning.
Advanced knowledge of C&I is an essential component of school leadership. Adding National Board Certification further prepares leaders with the expertise to improve teacher quality and student learning outcomes. ESU’s M.S. in C&I – National Board Certification PreK-12 online program provides a pathway for achieving both these goals. It prepares educators interested in curriculum and instruction to develop effective, well-rounded classroom materials for optimal learning outcomes.