By: Caroline Wynne Date: October 27, 2015
Pasco County Schools is located just north of Tampa and serves Pasco County, including New Port Richey and Land O’ Lakes, Florida. Its 89 schools employ over 5,000 classroom teachers, serving over 71,000 students across the county. As stated in its Strategic Plan, the District’s key priorities include high impact instruction, data-driven decisions, and collaborative culture. The District’s mission is to provide a world-class education for all students, empowering them to succeed in college, career, and life. For the district, this means increasing accountability and transparency to drive data-informed decisions.
Florida envisions a student-centered school environment where every district in the state is equipped with a Local Instructional Improvement System (LIIS) that meets stakeholder needs for access to and use of data to inform instruction in the classroom, operations at the school and district, and program evaluation. Required by the State, an LIIS includes an integrated solution incorporating Curriculum, Learning Management System, Assessment, Professional Development and Data Analytics, working seamlessly with a Student Information System. Pasco County Schools launched the QUEST Project Team to work in collaboration with all Departments within the district to support this work in creating a single sign-on LIIS system.
In addition to compliance, the District wanted a professional growth system that met its vision for supporting 21st century professional learning by providing differentiated professional development and coaching, focused on enhancing teaching practice to maximize student achievement.
In the past, teachers were evaluated using a single observation tool, and professional learning opportunities were housed in a separate system. The District needed to bring together both educator effectiveness and professional development enrollment and tracking data into a single sign-on platform called myPGS (Professional Growth System).
myPGS not only needed to replace the existing limited tools, but it also needed to house all historical in-service data, course transcripts and past evaluations. It was mission critical to get teacher evaluations and professional development implemented by the start of the 2015-16 school year.
Pasco County Schools partnered with Truenorthlogic to create myPGS, used for all professional learning activities and instructional evaluations, and successfully delivered the project under a tight timeline. The Pasco QUEST Project Team and the Truenorthlogic Client Success Team led the project implementation efforts and continue to work closely on improving the system to meet Pasco’s evolving needs.
Throughout the implementation process, Truenorthlogic outlined what to expect and identified potential unexpected challenges based on previous experience. The District expressed that their responsibilities, and the vendor’s responsibilities, were both clearly defined. “The Truenorthlogic team listens,” said Rebecca Musselman, QUEST Supervisor. “There are no barriers with technical or programming language.”
After implementation, the partnership remains strong. The project teams continue to communicate daily over email, meet weekly by phone, and monthly face to face. “Truenorthlogic is creative about problem solving, sometimes addressing our requests even while we’re still all on the phone,” said Scott Larson, Professional Development Supervisor. “I receive responses 24 hours a day. They are different from a typical project management team.”
The District has learned many best practices which they plan to incorporate in future implementations and would recommend to other districts. Identifying a project owner at the district (in Pasco’s case, the PD department), helps configuration and implementation go much smoother. A project of this scale is going to be a lot of work, and collaboration and buy-in especially at the Superintendent Cabinet level, is needed for any district considering such an implementation.
The District explained that the most gratifying part of the project was seeing how easily their workflows were put together within myPGS and how well their vision worked!
Pasco County Schools now uses Truenorthlogic’s project management structure as a guidepost for other systems the QUEST Project Team manages inside the district. “Truenorthlogic has taught us project management techniques, enabling us to uncover and address some of our own internal issues,” said Chuck Hutinger, QUEST Supervisor. Some of these project management techniques include weekly phone calls, collaborative note taking during meetings, recording meeting sessions, task tracking, homework assignments, and follow-ups at the start of every project call.
The bottom line is that everyone is held accountable. Everyone relies on each other to help the project succeed. “When one person doesn’t do their homework it affects everyone on the project team,” said Hutinger. “Truenorthlogic wants the project to be a success just as much as we do. In my 30 years of project management experience, Truenorthlogic is the best vendor team I’ve worked with.”