Organizing and managing information technology to support K-12 education reform

Steven Michael Guttentag, University of Pennsylvania


The United States continues to wrestle with the challenge of deteriorating K–12 education posed over a decade ago by the report A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) and educators and other public education stakeholders are increasingly looking toward new technologies to meet this challenge. Across the country extraordinary investments are being made in software, hardware, networks and training. However, if history is any indication, it will be difficult for educators to implement new technologies in a way that will dramatically impact either operational efficiency or student performance. This thesis is focused on how school districts should manage, organize and apply their technology in order to reap the anticipated benefits of their substantial technology investments. This topic addresses a conspicuous void in the research literature. While enterprise information technology management and organizational issues are relatively new for K–12 school districts, private sector corporations have been focusing on this subject for at last the last decade. Because of the similarities between school district and private sector information technology initiatives, lessons learned by the former have applicability to the later. Through a case study approach, using interviews, document reviews and surveys, this thesis examines one particular school district's concerted efforts to effectively organize and manage its substantial technology investments in support of its reform agenda. The case begins in August 1994, when the School District of Philadelphia ushered in a new administration, with an aggressive reform agenda led by Superintendent David W. Hornbeck. The introduction and expansion of technology was a key component of Mr. Hornbeck's reform agenda. This thesis describes and analyzes the following aspects of the School District of Philadelphia's information technology restructuring: origin and drivers; challenges and obstacles; impact on the system and school level users; and strategies for improvement. Ultimately, these findings present information and lessons that will assist other school districts in making the most of their information technology investments and to better understand the institutional processes at work.

Subject Area

School administration|Educational software|Information Systems

Recommended Citation

Guttentag, Steven Michael, "Organizing and managing information technology to support K-12 education reform" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9926132.