A DEMING SCHOOL
None of the schools we have treated thus far is a Deming school in any official sense. Rather, they are schools where Deming's essential principles are at work or where there is a growing interest in and application of his teachings. Although we did not make a site visit to Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska, it is closer to what might be called a Deming or TQM school in that its reputation is based almost exclusively on what it has done with Deming's teachings.
Mt. Edgecumbe is a public boarding school serving mostly Native Americans from Alaska's southeastern panhandle. More than 40% of the students are at risk or have had academic problems before they came to the school. But as we shall see, Mt. Edgecumbe can point to an impressive list of accomplishments — even academic ones — which would indicate that the school is adding immensely to the lives of the students there.
Once a Bureau of Indian Affairs school, Mt. Edgecumbe re-opened in 1985 after a two-year hiatus. Historically, the school's largely Native American students had done poorly on standardized tests, scoring in the bottom 30%. But by the end of the 1985-86 school year, achievement scores had jumped by a third (Schoenfeld 1992). Although the emphasis on achievement was there from the beginning, a number of factors converged to create what is probably the most full-blown example of Total Quality Management (TQM) in education.
One of the Mt. Edgecumbe's policies is to send its teachers periodically to schools in other states to observe successful programs. Mt. Edgecumbe teacher David Langford chose to go to Gilbert High School outside of Phoenix, Arizona, where he began to see the possibilities of applying Deming's concepts at his school.