Even though school administration and supervision may sound similar, there is a difference between administration and supervision. The nomenclature and job responsibilities also may differ from school district to school district. In some places, school administration and supervision may be two different jobs. In other places, school administration and supervision are two functions of the same job, and they are often in the domain of principals and vice principals. The definition of educational administration and supervision is usually up to the school district and hiring board looking to fill the positions of supervisors and administrators.

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Generally, school administration entails duties that involve the business of keeping a school running, whereas school supervision entails management of teachers and other staff.

What Is Educational Administration?

Educational administration encompasses a variety of jobs, including principals, vice principals, superintendents, department heads, program administrators and the jobs of other school and district staff members in leadership positions. The one thing all of these jobs have in common is that they are management positions. Without their behind the scenes work on the business and organizational side of education, schools and districts couldn’t function.

What Are the Duties of a School Administrator?

School administrators often focus on the stuff behind the curtain that keeps a school up and running. Sometimes school administration duties fall on principals, but at other times, additional staff members accomplish these tasks.

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One of a school administrator’s main jobs is to set a school’s budget. It is his job to account for local and federal funding. He also decides how to spend the funding. Do the biology classes need new microscopes, or should the money be spent on new bleachers for the football field? It is often the school administrator’s job to decide or to delegate the decision to someone else.

Another duty of school administration is hiring teachers and deciding on curriculum. Most often, the curriculum for certain classes is set by district or state administrators. School-level administration helps to make sure the curriculum is implemented correctly at their school and that the right courses are available to students.

Some administrators also assist with behavioral and classroom management. Administrators help teachers by giving them the tools they need to succeed in their classrooms. Administrators also implement disciplinary actions when situations with students go beyond a teacher’s capabilities in the classroom setting.

What Is School Supervision?

In many places, the definitions of educational administration and supervision are the same. Some schools and districts simply use administration and supervision interchangeably. However, there may be some differences. To supervise someone means to watch over them and direct their actions. Unless otherwise noted in a job description, supervision most often implies direct personal interaction with the people who are being managed, most often teachers.

What Are the Duties of a School Supervisor?

While the definitions of educational administration and supervision are often interchangeable, sometimes their duties aren’t the same. School supervisors can be employed by preschools and day care centers in addition to elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to the duties of a school administrator, school supervisors may work directly with school staff to help them do their jobs better.

What Is the Difference Between Administration and Supervision?

The difference between administration and supervision jobs ultimately comes down to the definitions set out by schools, school districts and states. For some, there is a great deal of overlap. For others, administration and supervision are two different jobs, and for other institutions still, administration and supervision are synonymous.

School administrators and supervisors are there to make teachers' jobs run more smoothly. They focus on the details for which teachers don’t have time. However, no matter how your school or district makes the distinction, all of these education professionals have one thing in common: Their job is to make the school run better so that students can achieve great things through education.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.