Continuous Improvement through Baldridge in Education
Siri, Diane K., Miller, Ruth, Leadership
THE BALDRIGE CENTER HELPS BUILD THE CAPACITY OF SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY TO BOOST ACHIEVEMENT, USING TECHNIQUES PROVEN SUCCESSFUL IN THE BUSINESS WORLD.
All students can reach high standards. Is that belief present in all schools -- especially low-performing schools? Is there a disconnect between standards, funding, teacher expectations and demands on students in California? If you believe that the barriers to school change lie in the need to change the system -- not the teachers or students -- you will be drawn to Baldrige in Education.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education is refocusing staff and resources to build the capacity of schools and districts to boost the academic performance of all students, but especially English language learners and students performing below grade level.
In June, the California Department of Education selected Santa Cruz County to receive a regional partnership grant to assess low-performing schools and to expand the Baldrige in Education program. Riverside, Stanislaus and Ventura were also selected to allow county offices to develop pilot programs to serve as effective models for systemic change focusing on districts with large numbers of low-performing schools.
Over the past six years, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education has developed the Baldrige in Education (BiE) Center and Quality Leadership Academy with a growing number of partners. Walt Buster, Superintendent, Clovis Unified School District; Carl Cohn, Superintendent, Long Beach Unified District; and John Casey, Superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District; outlined their districts' commitment to using Baldrige as a district change strategy at ACSA's Superintendents' Symposium in January 2001.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education continues to work with these districts and a growing number of districts through last October's Quality Forum 2000 conference, our local Quality Forum and a statewide conference being planned for May 2002.
"The Baldrige in Education approach is about getting results while building a culture that embraces continuous improvement. Baldrige gets everyone on the same page -- from the maintenance department to the School Site Council to the regional providers to the staff, parents and students -- everyone who interacts with the school can use the same criteria and tools to unify and drive their improvement efforts." -- Administrator, Pajaro Valley Unified School District
The Baldrige in Education Leadership Academy is a community-wide endeavor to improve local schools using management techniques proven successful in the business world. Educators are not the first profession to face the challenges of higher standards and expectations.
U.S. manufacturing industries faced tougher standards and competition in the 1970s and '80s. In the face of competition from Japan and Europe, automotive and electronic products from the United States were deemed inferior. Many American-made products that were highly praised in the past were then considered inferior and "underperforming." The companies that survived that era engaged in self-assessment and benchmarking; analyzing what customers wanted, focusing on high standards and continually improving their processes and working environments.
Schools and districts are learning from the experiences of American business. In the new millennium we face higher standards, greater "customer" or "stakeholder" expectations, and the need to build positive and enriching working environments for staff. We are more accountable for results -- requiring all students to be achieving at or above grade level and to be prepared to be successful in college and the world of work.
Beginning the quality journey
In 1995, Bruce Woolpert, CEO and President of Granite Rock Co., a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner, approached the Santa Cruz County Office of Education with an innovative partnership idea. …