'Measures of productivity are like statistics on accident: they tell you all about the number of accidents in the home, on the road, and at the workplace, but they do not tell you how to reduce the frequency of accidents.'
W Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis
One of the reasons for developing quality improvement processes is to build a successful school and in turn to provide students with the greatest possible degree of success. As a mission statement this is something that we can all subscribe to, but the issue is how can we best do this? What factors make a successful educational institution and how might these factors be linked to measurable indicators of success? The idea of performance measurement here is crucial because it is through measurement that we are able to analyse the effectiveness of quality improvement processes and through measurement that we are able to demonstrate our institution's accountability for the use of public resources.
Performance measurement and quality monitoring are crucial themes in the literature of total quality management, going to the heart of the original work of Walter Stewhart and W Edwards Deming. Their groundbreaking notions of using statistical process control tools to measure and then to eliminate variability in manufacturing processes and outputs have been adapted and applied in social contexts. They are powerful tools and can have a major impact on leveraging up quality.
However, it is crucial that the control of these measurement tools is in the hands of the practitioners, and preferably developed by them. They should not be forced on them by outside agencies. What quality measure-