Change at a Large Urban District: Developing and Operationalizing an Ed Tech Standards and Support System at Chicago Public Schools
Sayeed, Dilara Alim
- Publisher: Harvard University
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) aims to effectively and efficiently leverage Education Technology (referred to as Ed Tech) to serve as a powerful resource for strong instruction. The term Ed Tech at CPS refers to digital instructional products and programs, used by students or educators, for teaching and learning. Examples of Ed Tech include literacy programs such as Achieve3000, websites or platforms such as Khan Academy or eSpark, along with a myriad other technological inventions that are rapidly being produced. The Ed Tech industry encompasses a vast number of products for educators and students, and it is financially advantageous for Ed Tech vendors to conduct business with CPS, the third largest district in the nation. School principals, the primary purchasers of Ed Tech, navigate a decentralized procurement system that places the burden on individual school leaders to ascertain technology interoperability, level of student data security, the potential financial value of the product, and most importantly, evidence of impact on learning outcomes. In this capstone, I describe my EdLD residency experience as Special Assistant on Strategic Projects for the Chief Administrative Officer in leading a cross-functional team to build and operationalize a district-wide system that improves procurement practices and increases informed school-level decision-making regarding Ed Tech products. Research and interviews with industry leaders and educators surface three key challenges that a large urban school district faces when developing an Ed Tech procurement strategy: 1) defining and clearly articulating the scope of Ed Tech for internal and external stakeholders 2) driving Ed Tech procurement through a focus on students’ learning needs, and 3) assisting leaders, principals and teachers with successful change and subsequent adoption of the proposed system. Ed Tech is a pioneering and constantly evolving space. The strategic project results demonstrate that defining a narrow and clear scope, maintaining unwavering focus on the district’s vision of teaching and learning, and carefully navigating the stages and factors of change can significantly move CPS towards operationalizing a collaborative and comprehensive Ed Tech Standards and Support System between central office and schools.