An assessment of AIM from an IT perspective

I emailed this letter six days ago (early on 2/15/10) to twenty or more people at BCPS. I got no responses.
Dear BCPS Board Members,

A parent's notes of the February 4th PTA council meeting with Dr. Hairston include this line: "most importantly, at the end of the discussion, the Superintendent revealed that he intends to implement
AIM this spring." I'm not sure whether this statement is accurate or inaccurate. Either way, it's an indication of a serious problem with the Baltimore County Public Schools.

I have been a BCPS parent for over eight years. I also have a decade and a half of experience in the information technology industry. In those 15 years I have not observed any IT project that was so consistently and seriously flawed as AIM. Here are some examples of what I mean:

1. CONCEPTION. Neither the superintendent nor his staff have ever, to my knowledge, communicated why we need AIM.

2. PLANNING. There is no evidence of planning, whether it be cost estimates or implementation plans.

3. DESIGN. The designers have fallen into one of the worst mistakes in the IT business: building a system to meet the vague wishes of management without taking time to understand the specific needs of the folks who enter the data. This is a guaranteed recipe for GIGO: garbage in, garbage out.

4. USABILITY: The AIM application is clumsy and unnecessarily time-consuming. The user interface is very poorly constructed, even if one judges it based on 15-year-old pre-internet standards.

5. TESTING. BCPS claims that AIM has been "rigorously tested," but they refuse to divulge any details of test plans, benchmarks or test results.

6. IMPLEMENTATION. The superintendent sprang the implementation on unsuspecting teachers and parents in a December surprise. One teacher described it as "like Pearl Harbor."

In each of these phases, BCPS leadership has communicated poorly, failed to listen and demonstrated a disturbing lack of transparency.

AIM is the epitome of a poorly thought out, poorly designed and poorly implemented program. But it keeps rising from the dead like a zombie. Will you please help us kill it for good?


Dave Greene
BCPS parent
Member, "End AIM Now!" Facebook group

BCPS Board of Education:

Ms. JoAnn Murphy
Mr. H. Edward Parker
Dr. Joe Hairston
Ms. Jacqueline Camp
Mr. James Coleman
Mr. Earnest Hines
Mr. Rodger Janssen
Ms. Ramona Johnson
Ms. Margaret O'Hare
Mr. Joseph Pallozzi
Ms. Valerie Roddy
Mr. Lawrence Schmidt
Mr. David Uhlfelder

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