Houston Independent School District

"We needed to demonstrate the impact of our $15m STEM grant. With KickUp, I can track how the money translates to change in the classroom."

Houston Independent School District

Adam Stephens, Officer for Innovative Curriculum

Executive Summary

Houston Independent School District was entering its final year of a federally-funded STEM initiative and needed to both provide evidence of impact and maximize the PD teachers received. Using KickUp, Houston ISD was able to track progress during the year, make real-time changes, and report positive results to stakeholders in their leadership team and the federal government.

About Houston Independent School District

The largest school district in Texas and seventh largest district in the country, Houston ISD serves 215,000 students spread between 300 schools. HISD a diverse, urban community; 75% of its students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In 2012, Houston received a five-year, $15m federal grant to expand its STEM curriculum and instructional coaching.

The Challenges

Before using KickUp, Houston ISD struggled to personalize their professional learning for individual teachers. STEM-specific PD events were planned far in advance and post-event feedback focused on satisfaction with the experience, making it difficult to anticipate future needs.

In the final year of their STEM grant, HISD’s Officer for Innovative Curriculum Adam Stephens was charged with overseeing the grant’s success. He quickly realized he didn’t have the data needed to build supports for his teachers or track the overall impact of the grant. With only standardized test scores for a partial segment of the student population, Houston was facing the unfortunate truth that it might not be able to provide the evidence needed to demonstrate the $15m grant a success in changing teacher practice.

The Solution

KickUp’s Client Success team started by identifying teacher needs; with Adam’s support, they created customized self-reflection forms aligned to the STEM grant’s goals. The HISD team dug into this data, using it to identify common struggles and cohorts that needed additional support.

For example, many teachers reported difficulty using technology to drive higher order student thinking. As a 1:1 district where every high school student was issued a laptop, it was vital to address these concerns. After diagnosing the need, they were able to immediately build in professional learning opportunities focused on technology.

"We were able to gather data on a Thursday or Friday, dig into it that afternoon, and put together a way to address concerns the following week."

Adam Stephens

Officer for Innovative Curriculum

During the year, the team conducted walkthroughs that provided formative data on whether their professional learning was being translated into practice. Walkthrough forms were aligned with the STEM grant’s goals, making it easy to see where progress was being made.

"KickUp isn’t just an off-the-shelf product like so many others companies try to sell us; the team made sure it was flexible and customizable to what we needed in the moment."

Adam Stephens

Officer for Innovative Curriculum

Along the way, Adam shared the reports with district leadership, including Houston’s Chief Academic Officer and Chief of Human Resources. Sharing and discussing their KickUp dashboard encouraged collaboration and dialogue around the strengths and weaknesses of the STEM initiative and ensured decision-making was data-informed across departments.


At the end of the year, Houston ISD used their KickUp dashboard to provide results on their teachers’ growth to the federal government.




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