View as a pdf here - McAllen Independent School District


View as a pdf here - McAllen Independent School District
Transforming Learning In The Classroom,
Campus And Community
Apple Distinguished Program Application
Transforming Learning in the Classroom,
Campus and Community
McAllen Independent School
McAllen, TX
McAllen ISD’s TLC3—Transforming Learning in the
Campus, Classroom, and Community—is a K–20
academic implementation across the district. This
pioneering teaching and learning framework provides
one-to-one access to Apple mobile devices to all
students, faculty, and administrators. TLC3
demonstrates an innovative and compelling learning
environment that engages students and provides
tangible evidence of academic accomplishment.
Apple Distinguished Program Application
Visionary Leadership
"Never doubt that a small
Shared Leadership
group of thoughtful
McAllen ISD school leaders are passionate and
devoted to children. They give great care and
thought to every decision, but they also happen
to be the type of people who are bold,
inspirational, and courageous enough to take a
leap and commit to a real willingness to change.
committed citizens can
change the world.
Indeed, it is the only
thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead
It is precisely this kind of thinking that has made
it possible for the district to launch TLC3—
Transforming Learning in the Classroom,
Campus, and Community—an innovative
teaching and learning framework that leverages
powerful new technologies and merges it with
student-centered, inquiry-based learning.
It is a game changer that will forever transform
our district, our community, our family life, and—
most importantly—our students’ future.
The board of trustees and superintendent give a
huge amount of their time to vet all issues. They
do not shy away from the hard work and that also
means the controversial topics like finance, given
recent extremely difficult economic
circumstances. It all begins with a large number
of methods used to communicate so that
trustees thoroughly understand the
Apple Distinguished Program Application
McAllen ISD is named 2012 Outstanding
Board of the Year – District receives top
award in state, largely due to TLC3.
superintendent’s perspective for all issues as they
develop and as decisions are made.
They truly operate as a team of eight, a frame of
mind that is critical because the needs of our
students are so critical. Here’s why.
We are situated at an international apex, just ten
miles from the Mexico-U.S. border. Our
demographics tell our story – 91.9% Hispanic,
65.3% at risk, 67.3% economically disadvantaged,
and 27.4% Limited English Proficient. But those stats
do not tell you everything. We also house the
Regional School for the Deaf, so we take in more than our share of
children with special needs. Our District also began the Head Start
Program with the county to give a boost to 4-year-old children with
absolutely no English comprehension. Many children come to us never
having experienced Internet connection, a family vacation, or even a
bedtime story—things most of us would consider basic.
even professional Associate’s Degrees even before they receive their
high school diplomas.
Our education programs surpass the norm and TLC3—our innovative
teaching and learning framework—brings cultural and tactical change
to the way we deliver and inspire student education. During the
2012-2013 School Year, MISD completed the unprecedented “roll out”
of mobile learning devices to all 25,000 students and 1,600 teachers.
Our aim is to create a learning environment that fosters creativity,
ingenuity, and resourcefulness by placing into students’ hands
genuinely student-centered, inquiry-based learning, coupled with
cutting-edge technology and a team of professional educators to
skillfully facilitate their intellectual growth.
It is a culture of
progressive thinking,
balanced by sage
classroom experience.
Our students thrive on it.
Eight students of all ages huddle in the breezeway of the housing
project they call home, scrutinizing an electronic screen that casts a soft
glow on their avid faces. They may not all yet have the economic means to
access wireless fiber-optics at home but, because they now have iPads or
iPod Touch devices, they eagerly search out wireless connections that many
of us take for granted
But those demographics do not define us.
Many come from families who have never had anyone graduate from
college or even high school, so they become the first in their families
to earn a degree. In fact, they also earn an impressive number of
college credit hours, professional licenses and/or certifications, and
Our leadership cannot
afford a misstep because
our students' needs are so
critical and the prospects
so rich.
Bridging the gap - Some students may come to
us with little, but they walk away with so much.
Individual Leadership
A credible and inspirational thought leader sets and articulates the
When James J. Ponce, Ed.D.,
became McAllen ISD
Superintendent, he faced
multiple, weighty challenges—a
sparse fund balance, salaries well
below market levels, policies that
had not been updated in 12
years, a difficult local/state/
national economy, an unstructured facilities maintenance program,
and a burgeoning wave of charter schools drawing students away.
Work began with a code of ethics. A “Board of Trustees Operating
Protocol” placed children’s interest first, encouraged staff and
community input, and laid the groundwork for leading by example.
Staff is encouraged to take leadership roles. District and campus
employee-based groups explore curriculum, professional
development, and other work-related issues, policy, or standards.
Their recent work has led to many impactful changes.
But it is our nationally renowned teaching and learning framework
that is the best example of how the superintendent involves all sectors
of our school community in developing, implementing, and evaluating
the district’s short and long range goals. TLC3 places an iPad or iPod
Touch device into the hands of our students.
But it is the way he did it that really causes pause for thought.
Dr. Ponce brought together a cadre of educators, students, parents,
and business people and he then asked them to question the existing
framework. He challenged them to dream big and he actively
encouraged the fourteen teachers within the cadre to take the lead.
Each teacher assembled teams of ten teachers at their own
campuses. Those teachers then led the district’s technological
changes in the classroom and they were given resources (equipment
and professional development) to help make it successful.
The changes have
been phenomenal,
including an all-time
high fund balance—
up from $12 million in
2009 to $54 million
today, a Triple A bond
rating, a
“The iPad has been a real game changer
review/revision of all
in Education” Tim Cook quotes Dr. James
policies, a
Ponce at an October 2012 Keynote
revision of salary structures, a long range facilities maintenance plan,
and a “Proof of Concept” Master Design with energy efficiency and
performance contracting.
Today, we are recognized as a state and national leader, with a
forward-thinking and innovative approach that has led to being
multiple accolades, including
League of Innovative Schools
2012 Outstanding School Board of the Year, Top Award in Texas
“Digital Promise is a bipartisan
independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit
corporation authorized by Congress ‘to
support a comprehensive research and
development program to harness the
increasing capacity of advanced
information and digital technologies to
improve all levels of learning and
education, formal and informal, in order
to provide Americans with the
knowledge and skills needed to
compete in the global economy.’ The
League is comprised of roughly 25
innovative districts in 20 states that
represent almost 2.5 million students.”
2013 Superintendent of the Year State Finalist - Top 5 in Texas
Credit: Digital Promise
2013 Magna Awards for Best Practices and Innovative Programs that Advance Student
League of Innovative Schools, one of 40 superintendents comprising a national consortium that
have twice been invited to in-depth discussions at The White House, and
Texas High Performance Schools Consortium, one of 23 superintendents tasked with advising
the Governor, Legislators, and Education Commissioner regarding technology, accountability,
This Program has also spurred other new advancements for the District.
McAllen ISD is one of the first twenty school districts in the country to launch its own iTunesU
site, posting curriculum on a site that had previously been reserved for universities.
New mobile technology apps were developed that parents can utilize to communicate with their
students’ schools and access grades. Ours was one of the first in the country.
McAllen ISD has also forged a cutting-edge online partnership and instructional technologybased column with the local daily newspaper to target literacy.
An online partnership has been developed with the local cable provider to cablecast the
District’s television sports programming across the state on a high definition platform.
An online partnership has been developed with a local television station to target all sports and
advertising revenue.
Dr. Ponce’s encouraging work environment is centered on supporting our core staff. It fosters
change, making ours one of the largest deployment of digital devices in the country with incredible
anytime-anywhere learning for our students.
Community Engagement
Broad community sponsorship supports the institution’s initiatives.
McAllen ISD’s profound leap in the area of digital learning has met
with wide-sweeping support from the local, state, and national
community. The acknowledgement from education leaders is farreaching.
Beginning in March of 2011, the district conceptualized and
developed this innovative teaching and learning framework. In
November of 2011, teachers who made up the cadre that began TLC3
received their own laptops and iPads. Apple provided training for
them in December. In March of 2012, more than 5,000 devices were
issued to
students in the
first phase of
the rollout
process. All
other teachers
in the district,
for a total of
about 1,500,
received their
own iPads on
the last day of school, in May of 2012. In September of 2013, new
students to the district also began receiving their own devices.
McAllen ISD’s commitment to promoting communication is clearly
evidenced in the unflinching way the superintendent, board members,
and administrative staff spent large amounts of time and energy
during the spring of 2011 communicating TLC3 to the entire
community in an open spirit through eight separate Community Forum
presentations in English and in Spanish, dedicating hours to
completely vet the topic. For three months, we went out to
neighborhood schools, making presentations to the community,
hearing concerns, answering questions, and going out of our way to
listen. Even after the audiences had run out of questions to ask,
trustees would bring up concerns that had been raised at previous
Forums and unabashedly poll the audience about decisions that had
been made. It was a refreshingly honest and open approach to a new
venture that took the community and the country by storm.
These forums were well attended and the school district utilized
community feedback in helping to make the rollout of iPads effective
for all our students.
In fact, the very first forum was presented to a group of about 300
McAllen business leaders who make up the District’s Partners in
Excellence Program. Educators held their collective breath and
jumped right in to explain how and why the district felt that this “game
changer” merited the expenditure of district funds as it targeted what
was, in effect, a tapping of unimaginable possibilities. It was met with
overwhelming support that was led by the city manager, the executive
director of the economic development corporation, and the president
of the local chamber.
This ambitious project has earned accolades from local, state and
national media (including Associated Press, NBC Latino network). The
local coverage has included TV, radio, newspapers and magazines in
both English and Spanish. Publications with a statewide or national
reach have included Texas Monthly magazine’s website, the T-M Daily
Post, and the Forbes’ magazine website. It has also attracted the
attention of education publications like Texas School Business, Texas
Lone Star (published by Texas Association of School Boards), Texas School Public Relations Association (weekly e-newsletter), Scholastic
Administrator, Texas Teacher and School Administrator, and The Journal, an education technology publication.
TLC3 has led to multiple presentations as well as dialog with other educational representatives on transforming learning. The School Board
presented to the Texas Association of School Boards in San Antonio and the Superintendent presented at the 64th annual UT-TASA (Texas
Association of School Administrators) Summer Conference on in Austin.
The Board and superintendent also presented on TLC3 at the TASA/TASB Conference in Austin on September 28, 2012.
This innovative work has brought state and national attention to the District and the
region. It has led to an invitation for a conversation with some of the most powerful
people in the country. Dr. Ponce is one of about forty superintendents from across the
nation and one of only two in the state of Texas who have been invited to meet with
administration officials at the White House. They are members of the League of
Innovative Schools, a group of superintendents from across the nation, along with
researchers and education technology providers, who are working to advance
breakthroughs in education through the use of technology, a body of work dubbed the
“Digital Promise.”
Since we are one of a handful of districts in the nation to initiate such a massive mobile
device endeavor, other school districts have sought an up-close look. In March 2012,
the District organized a Transforming Learning Conference that attracted about 300
leaders in the fields of education (including higher education) and high technology.
There were seminars and symposiums sharing information on how iPads fit into today’s
classroom. The district also provided TLC3 Business Connections, a series of classes
that invited interested members of the business community to learn about technology
from our students.
This is relatively new ground and many eyes are focused on McAllen ISD. The District is viewed as a leader in instructional technology.
The District feels so strongly about providing 21st Century Learning that it leads the five objectives that guide the district’s long-range planning
and campus improvement plans.
One of the most exciting developments that impact our community
centers on new communications software that, in effect, creates a
digital backpack for parents—their own folder on their children’s
district-issued devices. In this way, the district has opened a new
bigger and better door to communicating with parents that will, no
doubt, result in a lifting of the entire community.
Community and Family
21st Century Learning
Human Capital
Safe Emotional/Physical
Learning Environment
District Culture
Security Audit
Common Vision/Mission
Joint District/City/County
Virtual Schools
Sensitivity Training
Community Partnerships
Blended Learning
Customer Service
Expanded Social Service
Personalized Learning
Organizational Health
Coordination of Services
Technology Ecosystems
Parents as Learners/partners
Infrastructure Connectivity Gap Develop
Digital Citizenship
Mobile Learning
Innovative Learning and Teaching
It is a culture of progressive
thinking, balanced by sage
classroom experience. Our
students thrive on it.
Our leadership cannot afford
a misstep because our
students' needs are so
critical and the prospects so
Student Learning
Academic rigor is our mantra. We live it. All of
MISD—elementary to high school—is at different
stages of International Baccalaureate (IB)
authorization, making McAllen ISD a pioneer in
raising the level of rigor and relevancy to the
research-supported world standard.
IB is important because it represents the studentcentered, inquiry-based segment of TLC3.
Since it was implemented in 2001, our model IB
Diploma Programme (high school) has maintained
a 98.7 percent success rate—among the highest
in the world! Four years ago, Dr. Ponce led an
expansion of IB into lower grades, targeting
achievement in science, language arts, math and social studies. Programme curriculum is collaboratively
planned, written, and based on best practices.
Our stringent process for IB implementation includes thorough review by staff, application for candidacy,
authorization to implement, and evaluation of 76 programme standards and practices by International
Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), the governing body in Switzerland. Through a grant, the District also
invested in extensive training for our Advanced Placement Program staff that has led to an astounding
leap in the number of students qualifying for college credit hours—555 students earning 2,185 one year
alone! Our commitment to continual improvement led us to commission the Texas Association of School
Administrators for a comprehensive Curriculum Management Audit to further align curriculum in all areas,
Apple Distinguished Program Application
with integration of CSCOPE (comprehensive, customized, user-friendly
curriculum support system), technology standards, and IB
instructional units. In 2010, the District approved a Five Year Strategic
Plan that lay the groundwork for far-reaching improvements in
curriculum design and revisions and other significant changes,
including audit recommendations.
The Superintendent transformed administrator meetings from
managerial to Instructional Leadership Seminars where educational
research and effective analysis of student data is scrutinized. Teachers
and administrators are trained to utilize the INOVA Process and DMAC
analysis modules to analyze student data and plan for effective
instruction. School improvement goals/objectives are discussed in
monthly meetings with Intra-District Educational Assembly (teachers
representing campuses) and a Parent Advisory made up of
representatives from each campus. Committees from these staff and
community groups provide feedback on policies and regulations.
Campus Instructional Leadership Teams analyze campus data,
identifying "vitals" to increase
academic achievement. This data
becomes Campus Action Plans that
are then reported to the community
via Board meetings, campus
meetings, and website postings.
Employees and parents have
voiced appreciation for the District’s
specifics, candor, heightened
accountability, and everyone’s clarity of purpose—all targeting school
improvement and student success.
McAllen ISD’s philosophy requires that learners be engaged as
inquirers and thinkers, building on what students know, versus what
they do not know.
The criteria require
that students are to
become responsible
for their own learning
while maintaining
and practicing
academic honesty.
The learning is to
address diversity
and multiple
perspectives while
meeting the needs of the diversity of English Language Learners and
that all teachers are responsible for language development. The
strategies of learning are varied, and must include information
technology. Students must be able to demonstrate the learning in a
variety of ways, including authentic assessments, internal and external
assessments and a variety of student performances.
Instructionally, Ed Options and Novanet are used for credit recovery at
the secondary level. The district provides data analysis through the
use of the “TAAS Analysis Project” developed by the district and
generated by Information Systems. Also, the district is involved in a
long term project aligning the curriculum TEKS to an in-house testing
system, which should correct deficiencies in student performance.
McAllen ISD utilizes many technology software resources, both to
analyze data and to enhance instruction.
Instructional Practices
Faculty are master learners who expertly guide their students through
difficult and complex tasks.
Early one morning, Dr. Ponce headed to the auditorium to launch the
new school year. Seventeen-year-old Jonathan Arteaga walked up to
him and asked if he could speak. Sensing his urgency, the
superintendent stepped aside, inviting him to take the stage. He
began testifying to the hushed, astonished audience. “I was a thug
and a gangster. I represented the hood because I wanted to feel
accepted. I surrounded myself with an environment that taught me to
believe that education was impossible and that college was a fragile
Tears flowed freely
throughout the room as
Jonathan simply and
candidly told his story. He
told about how the AVID
Program had changed his
life. He wanted all employees
to know about how truly
invaluable their work was.
In effect, he put a face to our
united, all-encompassing
mission in life.
class that is not part of the state graduation requirements. It
acclimates students to the rigorous demands of college. The district
also designed a Ninth-Grade Academy as a school within each high
school. A principal, counselor and transition teachers closely monitor
attendance, grades, and discipline, creating a safety net for students
and a closer-knit group of adults who dedicate themselves to their
cluster of freshmen.
This Ninth-Grade Academy was expanded to a Sophomore Academy
and then broadened to include a third level. It is important because it
was intertwined with support of TLC3.
A 32 percent improvement in the freshmen passing rate in one year
led us to expand the concept to the sophomore year and then to the
entire high school level! We engage parents in this process, holding
multiple energetic and resourceful sessions throughout the year.
Campus Planning Period is another district-designed structure/
process for using achievement data to guide curriculum and
instruction. More improvements will come through a District Curriculum
Management Audit by TASA and work with the American Productivity
and Quality Center (APQC) Education North Star Community for
Process Management to an efficient district-wide, tiered professional
learning model leading to student learning.
With weekly monitoring in place, we have seen significant
improvement in attendance and a reduction in total student failures.
McAllen ISD incorporates the use of instructional coaches to improve
all aspects of classroom instruction and student learning.
Aside from the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program,
we have many other measures are in place to ensure that all students
graduate. All 9th-graders are required to take a high school transition
Curriculum Design
High School Initiative Goals:
Address needs of students
Improve Attendance
Increase student achievement
Increase Graduation Rate
Decrease Dropout Rate
Increase Number of College-Ready
TLC3 creates digital learning environments where learning is collaborative, interactive and
customized, centered on providing mobile devices for all students and integrating a student
centered, inquiry based concept.
Mobile devices, including student-owned mobile devices, are used for anytime/anywhere
learning. Mobile learning empowers our students to extend learning from school to home and
provide teachers and students with a myriad of educational resources such as dictionaries, a
thesaurus, a graphing calculator, geographic maps, educational videos, eBooks, SAT/ACT
reviews, tutorials, flash cards, educational programs, electronic textbooks, classroom
instructional files, and audio books. Students utilize application and multimedia mobile
programs to create digital content for
teaching and learning such as
educational podcasts, blogs & wikis,
videos, digital storytelling books, and
other electronic media for learning.
Teachers, students, and parents
videoconference with each other using
mobile device camera.
Our student centered, inquiry based
concept, coupled with mobile learning,
creates an engaging trans-disciplinary
approach to teaching and learning. It is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work
with other students, their teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world. To
develop deeper knowledge of the subjects, students are studying, accepting and solving
challenges, taking action, sharing their experience, and entering into global discussions about
important and complex issues.
As part of its continuing effort to provide students with the best digital
learning resources on widespread platforms, McAllen ISD has taken
another great leap forward. McAllen ISD is now among the ranks of
universities and colleges by making content available via iTunes U.
We continue to build our library and resources with e-books and etextbooks. As student use of mobile technology tools become
ubiquitous, e-books will soon become the norm.
To ensure efficiency and measurable results, the district applied for
and received a grant with the American Productivity and Quality
Center (APQC) Education North Star Community for Process
McAllen students have been utilizing the virtual school network for the
past two years. This program has provided another option for
students interested in courses that have been difficult to “make,” due
to limited enrollment, students interested in acceleration, and some
special circumstances. We are currently exploring the development
of our own virtual school classes to be taught by MISD staff.
A number of other major improvements have taken place:
In 2010, the District approved a Five Year Strategic Plan that lay the
groundwork for far-reaching improvements in curriculum design and
revisions and other significant changes.
In April of 2011, the district authorized a District Curriculum
Management Audit by the Texas Association of School Administrators
(TASA) Texas Curriculum Management Audit Center. The audit
focused on the fundamental principles of high performing districts.
With the receipt and acceptance of the audit recommendations, the
district began the work of designing, developing, and implementing
leadership, curriculum, instructional, and support systems
To create a college going culture at the high school level, the district
was awarded a Texas Guaranteed Public Benefit Grant.
ENCORE Family Sessions are developed as a dynamic parental
engagement and family literacy initiative to promote awareness and
prepare students and parents transition from our seven middle
The district’s Advanced Placement Incentive Program developed a
culture of academic excellence in each of our high schools that is
driven and measured by student participation and success in the
Advanced Placement Program. interruptions to learning. Our united front ensures our students can
meet this challenge with success.
In 2011, the Rio Grande Valley Science Association applied for and
was awarded a NASA Summer of Innovation (SoI) grant that uses
NASA’s out-of-this-world missions and technology programs to boost
summer learning in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics, or STEM. The program’s vision is to advance excellence
in summer and extended learning for underrepresented and
underserved middle school students to inspire them toward future
STEM pursuits.
The McAllen ISD has been collaborating with “The Children’s
Learning Institute” to establish integrated school readiness
partnerships which include the McAllen ISD Pre-kindergarten
program, Head Start providers and child care providers.
Determined to move the focus away from an enforcement mentality
to a strategic attentiveness to attendance, a complete overhaul of the
District's Student Support Services operations has also been cuttingedge.
The district offers several programs of rigor to our high school
students. To increase the number of students enrolled in Advanced
Placement (AP) courses and the number of students earning 3’s, 4’
and 5’s in the AP exams, the District was awarded the AP Incentive
Program grant. The grant provides comprehensive teacher training,
advanced level, content-focused teacher training, and
financial incentives to teachers and students to foster success.
We are committed to—not only continually raising our rigor—but to
also reinforcing our connections to families and to addressing
Ongoing Professional Learning
Relevant and Timely Professional Development
Faculty engage in a cycle of
inquiry that promotes
reflection, experimentation,
and sharing.
Relevant and Timely Professional Development
McAllen ISD provides digital professional
learning with face-to-face instructional
technology sessions and observations during the
school year through ongoing Professional
Learning Communities. We train teachers in
innovative educational technology learning
techniques, modeling for them how to implement
these methods in their classrooms. Further, the
District now builds teacher capacity through job
embedded professional learning. Teachers
create engaging lessons that facilitate student
engagement and the development of 21stcentury skills—problem solving, higher-order
thinking, analysis, creativity, and collaboration.
They incorporate National Educational
Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S)
standards into lesson plans, practice new
teaching techniques in live classroom situations,
share ideas and support with fellow educators in
an ongoing learning community, and develop the
skills to meet the National Educational
Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T).
Professional development is so important to our
district that teachers are provided with a Campus
Apple Distinguished Program Application
Planning period (aside from the state-mandated
teacher conference period). Campuses use this time
to provide professional growth and to analyze
student data.
For district improvement efforts, McAllen ISD utilizes
master teachers as “instructional coaches” who
support and assist colleagues in all aspects of
classroom instruction and student learning. An
“Instructional Coach” is a master teacher that is
released on a full or part-time basis to:
Work in partnership with colleagues to accelerate
professional learning.
Focus student learning and the instructional strategies used to
enhance it.
the summer, after school, and on weekends to strengthen skills in the
areas in which they teach.
Work specifically to improve teachers’ instructional strategies within
the core areas, Implement effective instructional practices, improve
student achievement, and build teacher capacity through job
embedded professional learning.
Additionally, staff attends inservices, workshops, conferences, and
seminars. This is supported by the Board because trustees
understand this will ultimately offer the children a better trained, wellinformed team of professionals.
Our teachers are
also part of a
program done
by TASA through
iTunesU. Simply
put, we invest in
our students by
investing in our
The district also
offers extensive
staff development programs, including the Principal’s Academy and
Peer-Led Conferences. Teachers can earn time equivalency credit
while they choose from an extensive listing of classes offered during
McAllen ISD was invited to participate for the past four years in the
National Student Clearinghouse Student Data for High Schools Pilot
Project with eight other Texas school districts to assist in the
development and use of actionable reports, online data tools and
professional development with other districts focusing on college
readiness and success. Instructional leaders are well read and knowledgeable about the latest
educational research. Teachers and administrators are trained to
utilize both INOVA Process and DMAC analysis modules to analyze
student data and plan for effective instruction. INOVA identifies ways
to add value to students in academics, while the DMAC is used for
both formative and summative benchmarks.
Monthly administrator meetings were transformed from managerial to
Instructional Leadership Seminars that provide administrators with the
tools they need to be instructional leaders on their campus.
Discussion centers on defining rigor, engagement and teacher
evaluations. Campus planning has changed. Campus Instructional
Leadership Teams (CILT) review and analyze campus data, working
to identify the “vitals” that needed to be addressed in order for the
school to increase academic achievement. The areas identified as
needing improvement, along with the plans to address them, resulted
in their Campus Action Plans. Their action plans are embedded into
their campus improvement plans.
Just three months after taking the helm, Dr. Ponce also had new
staffing guidelines approved by the School Board. A staffing audit
was conducted by the Texas Association of School Boards in spring
2011 and a compensation plan review was conducted in spring 2012.
Compelling Evidence of Success
"The iPad has been a real
game changer in Education.
No technology has impacted
the way teachers teach and
students learn more quickly
and more profoundly. With
iPad, the possibilities are
Dr. James Ponce,
McAllen ISD, Texas
Apple Distinguished Program Application
Data is routinely collected and analyzed to inform
progress and measure success.
McAllen ISD is proud of the academic gains we
have made with all of our demographic
populations. The charts given below illustrate
the five year academic gains for all populations
in all subject areas. We continue to increase
rigor and raise our standards as we now are
preparing our students for the State of Texas
Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)
Narrative, reflective, or
anecdotal evidence is collected
and shared.
Although MISD is 92% Hispanic, 27% LEP, and 67% economically
disadvantaged, MISD has consistently reached/matched and/or
surpassed state averages in almost all sections (Academic Excellence
Indicator System data attached).
Gains made in the area of Advanced Academics have also been
phenomenal, along with a new, engrossing love of reading.
With full concentration evident
on his fresh face, 1st grader
Brandon Espinoza watches the
needle on the iPod Touch device
he grip tightly in his young
hands. At the same time, he
listens avidly as his friend,
Michael Ruiz, reads a passage
from a book. “I’m timing him for
his fluency,” the cherub face
proudly explains, eliciting
excited gasps from adults who
were touring the classroom.
They marvel at both the act and
the evidence of higher-level
comprehension displayed by the
Evidence of higher-level
comprehension - “I’m timing him
for his fluency,” the six-year-old
Students use the iPod Touch to record themselves reading and
ultimately improve their literacy skills. Hearing their own voices during
the playback helps them hear their own enunciation. The exercise also
helps teacher Ruth Whiddon gather objective data, enabling her to
pinpoint where every student’s strengths lay and where they need
more help.
Ms. Whiddon explains that the device might tell you a student who
was reading at 50 words per minute one week is now up to 55. Use of
the iPod Touch started in 10 classrooms at Jackson Elementary and
impacts about 160 students. The plan is for it to become school-wide
by spring 2013.
This stellar moment and
Movie 1.1 Chronicling the Transformation
hundreds more are videotaped
as the district chronicles what is
happening in our classrooms.
The experiences are shared with
staff, parents, community
members, and educators from
around the country via enewsletters, presentations,
YouTube, iTunesU, and through
free TLC3 Demo Tours and a
state conference provided by
the district.
Flexible Learning Environment
Educators held their
collective breath and jumped
right in to explain how and
why the district felt that this
“game changer” merited the
expenditure of district funds
as it targeted what was, in
effect, a tapping of
unimaginable possibilities.
School Design and Facilities
Having just completed a $97 million bond
construction program on schedule and under
budget, McAllen ISD began the innovative
approach to incorporate cost saving efficiencies
through an energy conservation program and the
District’s Growth and Facilities Forecast Advisory
Committee reviewed and inspected all school
facilities to assess conditions and to implement a
facilities-needs plan.
Most importantly, in September of 2013, it
launched a district-wide analysis of facilities to
target creating a 21st century learning
environment. The district brought together a
group of about 150 people—parents, teachers
and other educators, business and community
representatives—to conduct tours of all sites.
Their reports—conducted with the use of iPads
and a digital survey instrument provided through
the district’s new communication system—will
then be merged with a professional assessment
conducted by a management company.
Apple Distinguished Program Application
Mission of the 2013 Facilities Forecast Advisory
To assess the condition and needs of district
facilities with the goal of providing 21st Century
Learning for the children in our community. This is
being done in a comprehensive, inclusive way that
merges professional assessment with real-time
input from stakeholders representing our
Analysis of District needs will be completed by
January of 2014. It will conclude with a report to the
In addition, the district established Campus Planning
Periods at all secondary schools, devoting to
professional development about an hour each day
for every employee.
Additional Work
A seven million expenditure targeted roofs, air
conditioning, equipment needs, etc. The district also
conducted an analysis of growth and zoning
projections for targeted facilities planning. The
program leverages Qualified School Construction
Bonds (QSCB) at zero interest rate because of our
Superior financial rating with the energy performance
method of construction contracting. As a result, we stretched dollars
into more than $17 million of infrastructure renewal and increased
energy efficiency without bearing the burden or initial capital
investment for taxpayers. Those energy savings measures have
guaranteed the District $1.2 million annually in cost savings. This
green conservation investment goes across the board. Along with
electrical, water, and energy savings, we take the environmentally
friendly green approach, like using sustainable sites, targeting
indoor air quality, and improved ventilation.
community input into consideration in review of facility needs. A
series of other improvements were implemented, including improved
lighting, painting, and other remodeling work to maintain a high-level
learning environment and training programs were implemented for
work crews to reinforce the standard. The transportation department
has automated the transportation route service reporting system to
identify student population trends. The data is used in long range
facilities planning.
Information Technology (IT)
The result is a better learning environment that produces savings.
We leveraged our dollars and used our savings to further invest in
our infrastructure, including $3M in facility upgrade projects. We also
implemented a new 5-year equipment replacement system that
ensures more efficient long-term planning and better use of this
year’s dollar. The result is a $30 million investment.
We are also using a $300,000 Ready and Emergency Management
for Schools Grant to consolidate all crisis resources. That plan
includes improvements to our facilities to increase campus security
and building access, as well as preparations for hurricane and
natural disasters.
Other innovative conservation measures involve consolidation of
facilities. The closing of an elementary school due to an enrollment
had a significant two-fold impact—consolidation of all administrative
support departments with savings in energy use and creation of a
one-stop center for students and parents, helping us better leverage
resources and provide A+ Service to our students. The District
utilized community task force recommendations in an effort to take
We don’t just talk a good game. We put it into practice.
When a local minister who serves on the Board of Regents for a
progressive university came into the superintendent’s office in March
of 2011 to propose the district get computers for a particular
classroom, the superintendent asked, “Why not every classroom?
Why not every student?”
It was that discussion that led to our district handing out an iPad or
iPod Touch device to every single student in our district and then
building out the District’s technology infrastructure to support it.
McAllen ISD faced a tremendous challenge in providing sufficient
resources to address 25,000 devices in addition to current inventory.
Providing a secure, resilient infrastructure in a limited amount of time
is extremely daunting.
To address the challenge, MISD enlisted the services of key
manufacturers. Apple, Cisco, AirWatch, Time Warner Cable, and F5
are all leaders in their respective fields.
MISD and Cisco collaborated on a case study involving Cisco Identity
Services Engine (ISE). ISE is designed to provision and poster
devices onto the infrastructures wireless network.
Cisco’s relationship with MISD garnered the technical resources to
address the transport of data over its wired and wireless mediums.
The existing infrastructure was not prepared to handle the upcoming
onslaught of mobile devices. Enter managed mobility. An intelligent
AirWatch, MISD’s preferred mobile device management solution, was
introduced to manage the devices being issued to students and staff.
AirWatch’s ability to consistently take inventory of the devices, track
their location, address security and location concerns, and install/
remove applications Over The Air (OTA) melded well with MISD’s
TLC3 initiative. AirWatch’s enrollment process and administrative ease
of use is its greatest technical asset. Furthermore, AirWatch’s
willingness to listen to its customer base allowed MISD to guide
features of the MDM that it found most effective in managing the tablet
Just as with Cisco, MISD collaborated with AirWatch on several case
MISD used a training mechanism within AirWatch. MISD has set a
high level of expectations from AirWatch and continues to push the
envelope in the evolution of MDM features and functionality.
eco-system of application and hardware solutions that would allow
MISD to systematically manage/control the mobile environment with
its current manpower was introduced. Seemingly endless man-hours
were consumed in the design, procurement, installation, and testing
of over 150 high performing switches and routers, 1700 wireless
access points, enterprise management and security applications.
MISD is currently working with AirWatch and Cisco to dynamically tie
both products to ensure that device enrollment is performed prior to
accessing its corporate network. Doing so provides a greater level of
success in insuring it’s students have the necessary resources to
Time Warner Communications has provided the Internet services to
adequately access out of district services and applications. District
Internet consumption jumped from a measly 150 megs to over 2
gigabits within the span of less than six months. It was phenomenal.
Enlisting a powerhouse like Time Warner allowed MISD to service the
needs of its users at a feasible cost, while providing best in class
support and offerings.
Lastly, F5 has joined the MISD family of best-in-breed companies. F5
supports Fortune 50 organizations. For MISD, F5 provides a loadbalancing solution that will facilitate the filtering of mobile devices while
on and off the district’s infrastructure.
The culmination of enlisting best-in-breed companies has allowed
MISD to provide superior services to its students, families, and staff.
Through intense collaboration, MISD has built an agnostic
infrastructure that will scale up to 100,000 devices.
We celebrate a community of learners that is supportive and reflective
of our educational philosophy. Together, we put the theory of success
for every single child into practice.
In this unique way, our school district is leveling the playing field for all
students, while also spurring our students forward so they can
compete in the universities and the work places of the 21st Century.
Contribution and Credits
• Ms. Norma Zamora-Guerra
• Dr. James J. Ponce
• Ms. Rachel Arcaute
School Liaison
Ms. Norma Zamora-Guerra
Community Information Director
Email: [email protected]
• Ms. Carmen Garza
• Dr. Matthew Weber
In addition to the school liaison, the following people are able to address these areas.
• Mr. Pat Karr
Visionary Leadership
Dr. James J. Ponce
Email: [email protected]
Innovative Learning and Teaching
Ms. Rachel Arcaute
Assistant Superintendent for Instructional
Email: [email protected]
Ongoing Professional Learning
Ms. Carmen Garza
Director for Instructional Technology
Email: [email protected]
Apple Distinguished Program Application
Compelling Evidence of Success
Dr. Matthew Weber
Associate Superintendent for Instructional
Email: [email protected]
Flexible Learning Environment
Mr. Pat Karr
Director of Network Services and Support
Email: [email protected]