IT Infrastructure & Management

IT Performance Lessons From Texas

By Michelle R. Davis — October 17, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print
Jim Hirsch

Jim Hirsch is the associate superintendent for academic and technology services for the Plano, Texas, school system. During Hirsch’s tenure in Plano, the district has built a reputation for embedding technology into learning and the management of schools.

Listen to the full audio interview with Hirsch.

Your district has developed a performance-management system. How has it evolved to meet the changing needs of your schools?

Hirsch: As we’ve gone from simply providing access to our teachers in our classrooms to standardized-test scores and the typical assessment types of reports everyone is working on, we’ve taken a better look at truly what it is we need to measure if we are going to talk about student performance other than a single snapshot of data. And so our performance-management system is set up to help our teachers visualize three measures that we’ve decided are very important. The whole concept of looking at performance from a variety of different dimensions has become a reality for us. The whole design of the system was so that the teachers as well as the principals at the campus level have full control over the information.

Other Q&A Interviews

Susan Johnson

Charlotte CIO Talks About Challenges
Susan Johnson, the chief information officer for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina, talks about the challenges of incorporating new technologies into learning.


A Principal’s Tech Perspective
Troy Patterson, the principal of Woodworth Middle School in Dearborn, Mich., discusses his views on educating “digital natives” and other educational technology issues.

How much training was necessary for teachers and administrators at the school level to learn how to use the system successfully?

Hirsch: We are fortunate in that we’ve had a long history of training with staff and we’ve embedded technology into our curriculum for well over a dozen years now, so that all of our curriculum training involved the technology aspect of it as well.

What impact has the performance-management system had on student achievement?

Hirsch: It really has just been in place during [the 2007-08 school year], so we don’t have any longitudinal data that we can go back and find. But teachers are finding themselves looking at their students with a new view because of the information that’s being provided. And some of the questions in the past when they weren’t sure if a student had the ability to perform at a certain level, they now feel more confident in saying that, yes, that student is not achieving at the level they can.

It really seems like the district is making an effort to tailor learning to individual students and their needs.

Hirsch: That is very true. That is exactly our goal.

Your district is expanding the use of “open” technologies. Why are you heading in this direction?

Hirsch: What we’ve been looking at for quite a few years are those applications, those systems that work on an open framework so that we’re not locked in to proprietary formats. That’s been a big cause of concern for us at our size, with 54,000 students and 34,000 PCs. We are very much interested in making sure our students get access to whatever information they need, from wherever they are, whenever they choose to. I think that’s a big plus for us as we continue to work on that.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2008 edition of Digital Directions as IT Performance Lessons From Texas


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure & Management Schools Get Relief on Chromebook Replacements. Google Extends Device Support to 10 Years
Schools have typically had to replace Chromebooks every three to five years.
4 min read
Photo of teacher working with student on laptop computer.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
IT Infrastructure & Management What We Know About District Tech Leaders, in Charts
Male chief technology officers in K-12 tend to come from technological backgrounds while most female tech leaders are former teachers.
1 min read
Illustration concept of leadership, using wooden cut-out figures and arrows.
Liz Yap/Education Week via Canva
IT Infrastructure & Management How Schools Can Avoid Wasting Money on Technology
A district leader shares ways to ensure ed-tech tools are worth the investment.
2 min read
Illustration of laptop with checklist on the screen
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
IT Infrastructure & Management Why Schools Struggle to Keep Track of Students' Laptops
Districts should be tracking their technology assets as much as they can, but it's easier said than done, experts say.
4 min read
A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are in the computer lab using laptops. A little boy is watching a video and is listening to music.