Total quality education refers to the process of applying the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) in education. TQM centers on a set of management practices aimed at increasing a company's quality and productivity through the participation of all members of an organization. These management processes can be adapted to the principles for improvement in education, which also needs a program implementing excellence and continuous improvement.
At the core of TQM are concepts developed by W. Edwards Deming which were adopted by the Japanese after World War II (1939 to 1945). These ideas helped the country turn into an economic giant. The TQM's emphasis is on the satisfaction of customer requirements, specifications and expectations. The principles have been adopted by businesses all around the world in their drive toward excellence.
One of the main principles of TQM is meeting customer requirements and needs. In business, customer-driven needs and desires result in continuous improvement. In public schools, students, teachers, principals, parents/guardians, businesses and other constituents should all form a community, which should be unified and involved at all levels. Active participation of all members of a school is needed to achieve successful change and constant improvement.
The idea of the participation of senior management is another principle used by business to bring about continuous improvement. Upper level personnel take roles as team leaders, whose responsibility is to build a successful team, which secures a successful business. Schools can also take more advantage of their senior, more experienced teachers. A new category of lead teachers can be introduced, whose role would be to help and guide colleagues who need to improve their performance.
Businesses that empower their employees and promote teamwork also improve continuously. Management is moving to a more flattened structure and encourages equal participation at various levels, with teams working together. Public schools can restructure this approach to take advantage of the teacher expertise and also make it effective. Site-based management teams of teachers and staff in collaboration with parents/guardians can make instructional decisions and be held accountable for the results. Site-based management also helps in the initial acceptance of change, while teachers need to be flexible and try new strategies and means of assessment to improve learning. Standards implemented by site-based administrators will insure the school meets the educational concerns and social beliefs of the community.
Another principle for continuous improvement used by businesses is training in quality improvement. This is based on the idea that education and training should be ongoing because change and improvement are continuous. A comprehensive staff development program in the public school setting can also affect quality positively. Staff development that addresses the needs of teachers and students, while promoting the best possible means of teacher delivery, plays a significant role in teacher improvement and student learning.
Businesses also use the improvement of processes, products and services as a principle of the continuous process. Companies use other business's quality processes as an example to improve their own organization. Schools can see this improvement if they restructure the way students are evaluated. Teachers must be involved in the creation and analysis of the means of testing and alternative forms of assessment.
Businesses are always looking for valid measures of success. They seek assessment procedures that can be quantified over time, substantiated and used for determining quality problems and organizational achievement. For schools to adopt the TQM principles they will need to use performance-based assessment. Teacher's and administrator's performance that affects student learning should be the basis for standards, with teachers having input into the selection of standards.
For continuous improvement, businesses also adopt the principle of speed and cycle time. Efficiency and adeptness should also be taken into account in the face of competition. Schools can prioritize the amounts of time each learner spends on a task and improve them through detailed specifications of activities, responsibilities and resources. Improved efficiency in schools results in increasing academic achievement.
Businesses use different methods to simplify their systems. They utilize available time and resources and eliminate waste. Schools also need to consider what students are being taught and define essential knowledge. Teachers should also maintain high expectations for all students.
Education needs to change management practices that have proved unsuccessful and apply new ones. TQM includes goal-setting, problem-solving and working together, all of which promotes lasting improvement. All these principles can be used in the education system in order to achieve continuous improvement.