Total Quality Education: Profiles of Schools That Demonstrate the Power of Deming's Management Principles

By Michael J. Schmoker; Richard B. Wilson | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
JOHNSON CITY SCHOOLS *

The Johnson City Schools are probably the best model in the United States of what could be called quality schools.

— William Glasser, The Quality School

In 1970 Johnson City School District was the lowest-achieving among the 14 districts in Broome County, New York. Less than half of their students were working at grade level. This lower-middle-class district, with virtually no managerial or professional citizens, suffered from the lowest per-capita income in the county (Vickery 1988).

Larry Rowe (then a teacher, now assistant superintendent) likes to say that in 1972 he was "a natural selection guy." He believed that schools were basically in the sorting business, determining who had it and who did not. Student achievement, in the main, was determined by factors other than the school or the quality of instruction. His views changed

____________________
*
In selecting the schools for our study, we relied to some extent on how they fared on standardized test scores. This is not to imply that we endorse this form of assessment. On the contrary, as we will try to make clear, each of these schools does well in several other respects and is assiduously developing alternatives to standardized assessment. We believe this is absolutely essential and in keeping with Deming's belief that "visible numbers" are not the sole criterion on which to base effort. Nevertheless, standardized tests are among the best evidence we currently have to document the impressive achievements of these schools. We eagerly await the refinement and increased reliability of more authentic assessments. There are promising pilot projects under way across the country to develop these, and it will not be long before standardized tests take their proper place with respect to more authentic — and ultimately more helpful — measures.

-37-

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