CoSN uses the umbrella term of Chief Technology Officer (but districts will use lots of different titles for this position. I recommend you look at CoSN's Framework of Essential Skills www.cosn.org/framework to see the comprehensive way we think about the job (or jobs at a large district) to accomplish transformation.
I also recommend you read Module Two of our Empowered Superintendent's toolkit www.cosn.org/superintendents which talks about the new skills needed to build a strong district team around use of technology for learning, including the importance of this position.
Also, there are great tools highlighted on www.cosn.org/superintendents including a CTO self-assessment, a draft job description, questions for an interview for a CTO position, as well as a CTO evaluation rubric.
Hope this helps.
Keith Krueger, CAE
CEO, CoSN – Consortium for School Networking
1325 G St., NW
Washington, DC 20005
Not a Member? Join Now! www.cosn.org/membership
I have been the Technology Director at my current location for about 25 years and 12 years before that at a different school system. I asked the superintendent when I was hired if I should get my Admin Certification. His response, you have the skill set and that is what is important to me and to the Board. Yes, I am at the cabinet level and compensated accordingly. I believe the CETL certification is a very strong endorsement of the skill set required to do the job. However, ultimately different school boards have different requirements tied to compensation so you are wise to have that discussion with your superintendent.
43 years ago, when I started my career, I had a professor tell me, "Don't have a 30-year career with only one year of experience." In reflection, I now understand that he was talking just to me. Everyone has their own path and different needs. Mine has always been to transform education through technology. So, every year I have had a significant job change. In one case I worked for the same district for eight years, but every year there was an administrative role that I could take on to transform through technology. I was always the Director of Technology reporting to the Superintendent, but I would also take on the curriculum, budget, food services, facilities, principal management and so on. Each year it was a different role. Being a Director of Technology you learn about every aspect of education. Having my CETL is the best reflection of that level of understanding.
Now to you and your question, it really depends on what you want. However, if you are truly going to be an educational technology leader, having a broad understanding of every aspect of education is important. Sometimes just throwing a computer at a problem isn't the solution. Sometimes you need to understand the question and not only change the technology, but what is happening.
One of the things I learned as a teacher was getting a master's degree helped my salary. So, I got my Administrative MS in the first year. I didn't need it for the job or to teach and I had no interest in moving up to assistant principal. What I found out is that the degree got me to the table. When a Principal would say you can't have a computer in the classroom because they are media and should stay in the media center. I knew how to respond with professional authority. I could speak admin. When the business manager cut my funding request for technology I got my Chief Business Management Endorsement (more graduate courses), I then could speak budgets. When the board said no to my 1:1 proposal (in 1987). I got my EdS and was elected to my local school board. I could speak school board. When I wanted to publish I got my EdD and finished my dissertation in 2017. I could speak.
Do you need the degree? First question is who do you want to talk to. The second is will they understand what you are saying. The degree both gets you a better seat at the table and helps you understand those that are making the decisions. If you are comfortable in a supporting role, others will make the decisions. If you want to help write the play, you need credentials.
Do you need a title change? I've been called lots of things, but I'm still happily married after 39 years. However, the titles reflect the status in most Fredrick Taylor based organizations. In education, they are often directly linked to authority level. This is both from the outside view and the inside perspective. For example, a community foundation will be more inclined to be working with the Assistant Superintendent than the Network Administrator, even though they may have the same role. The new member of the school board will also see Network Administrator as a lower position than a Chief Technology Officer. You can try to educate them about your job, but if you have the role you should have the title. If you don't have the credentials and the level of authority than you won't receive the respect that decision makers need to persuade them to support your causes. If you don't want the job pressures that come with that level of respect, then don't ask for the title and don't get the credentials. There is nothing wrong with being happy with doing a good job for others that want to lead.
So, the question isn't, "does the superintendent need to change the title of your job?" The question is, "what job do you want and do you want to lead the change?"
Either one of the following is fine but one gets me where I want to be:
John Sonnenberg, BS, MS, EdS, EdD, CSBO, CETL