Iredell Statesville School District Using Baldrige To Improve Teaching & Learning

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Information about Iredell Statesville School District Using Baldrige To Improve Teaching...
Business & Mgmt

Published on February 2, 2009

Author: siddharth4mba

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Iredell Statesville School District Using Baldrige To Improve Teaching & Learning

Making the Case for Quality June 2008 Iredell-Statesville School District: Using Baldrige to Improve Teaching and Learning By Dawn Creason “Gosh, I don’t remember one.” At a Glance . . . That’s what Iredell-Statesville Schools’ Chief Operating Officer Brady Johnson said when he was • The Iredell-Statesville asked whether the district had a strategic plan, back in the days before it implemented a systems-based School District in North approach to improving teaching and learning. Carolina was over budget, out of money, “I’m sure we probably had one,” said Johnson, who was a high school principal prior to joining the and mired in mediocre central-office team. “But it was probably one of those pieces of paper we got out once a year and then academic performance and filed on some bookshelf. I don’t remember using it, that’s for sure.” administrative scandals. • In 2002 the board of Fast-forward six short years: The school district now employs a systems-based approach to continu- education hired Terry ous improvement using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. A strategic plan was not just Holliday, a superintendent developed for the district, but also is used by everyone, every day. with a proven record of using the Baldrige criteria to guide successful schools, The plan—as well as the district’s vision, mission, and six core values—drives all decisions made by to lead the district. the board of education, district administrators, and all school and support personnel. From wallet-sized cards for all employees to more detailed printed versions, the strategic plan is the guiding force for • Both instructional and support personnel were improvement in the district. trained on the use of the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) About Iredell-Statesville Schools method; Holliday trained many staff members Serving more than 21,000 students in an area of western North Carolina about 40 miles north of Charlotte, personally. The district Iredell-Statesville Schools is among the fastest-growing school districts in the state. With 19 elementary, began a sustained effort seven middle, five high, two early-college high, and two nontraditional schools, Iredell-Statesville Schools is to use PDSAs in every classroom, as well as Iredell County’s top employer, with more than 3,100 employees. Thirty-five percent of the school district’s every task performed students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. More than 45 different languages are spoken by families by nonteaching staff. in the district, and nearly 1,200 students are classified as having limited English-language proficiency. • Six years later the district enjoyed improved test Getting such a large, diverse organization to embrace quality takes careful planning, thoughtful scores, a firmer economic coordination, decisive deployment, and communication to all stakeholders. The message: Continuous footing, and greater public improvement is an ongoing journey, not merely a destination. confidence. The district ranked among the top Why Quality? 6 percent of all 2007 Baldrige National Quality Program applicants. Flash back once more to 2001. The district’s superintendent and finance officer are under fire and facing more than a dozen allegations of mismanagement of district funds. Financially, the district is in The American Society for Quality www.asq.org Page 1 of 5

serious trouble—over budget and out of money. Academically, the model was deployed to schools considered to be the most the schools are performing at a level that could generously be at risk of becoming low-performing, a group made up mostly described as mediocre. Public confidence in the school district is of Title I schools, which were already targeted by federal at an all-time low. The board of education realizes that swift and programs seeking to provide academic support to economically deliberate action is required. disadvantaged students. The first step was hiring a new district superintendent. In 2002 As quality became the standard approach to improving classroom the board tapped Terry Holliday for the post. Holliday had been instruction and student learning, the board of education supported serving as superintendent in Transylvania County, North Carolina, Holliday’s recommendation for additional IFs, and the model was where he had used the Baldrige criteria to bolster student achieve- fully deployed across the district during the 2005-06 school year. ment. The board particularly liked the way Holliday articulated the Iredell-Statesville’s Quality Journey calculated and coordinated effort that would be required to move Iredell-Statesville past its existing state of affairs: In addition to The first stop on the journey to continuous improvement came the troubles plaguing district administrators, the district’s schools with the board of education’s adoption of a vision, a mission, and classrooms lacked the structural alignment needed to nudge core values, and a strategic plan. Each of these would help steer the district, as a whole, out of its mediocre status. the system, particularly as schools and classrooms began to align their improvement plans to the district’s goals and ambitions. The Board of Education: Leading By Example As these processes began to evolve, consultants helped Iredell- Statesville write its own version of the Baldrige National Quality The Iredell-Statesville Schools board of education has taken a proactive and Program criteria. engaged approach to guiding the district’s journey through the continuous improvement process. In addition to supporting the initial deployment of Although the initial deployment of the model was successful, quality processes throughout the district, the board also serves as a model it was met with skepticism by many critics, including district through its own introspective processes aimed at continuous improvement. employees. Nevertheless, the district continued to move forward Each year the board conducts independent mid-year and end-of-year reviews with deployment of the Baldrige criteria, each year making to gauge its success at helping the district achieve its strategic goals. During this process, board members use the Systems Check III method to assess their improvements to the model to meet the specific needs of the improvement and to identify areas that require additional improvement. The district and its students. Both instructional and support personnel result of these self-assessments is a board of education improvement plan that were trained on the use of the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) is closely monitored throughout the year and that serves as a model for other method; Holliday trained many staff members personally. districts throughout the state and nation. The Evolution of PDSA in Iredell-Statesville “There were too many decisions coming out of a site-based In Iredell-Statesville, PDSA is a six-step process, as indicated management system,” Holliday recalled. “There were plenty of in Figure 1. Initially, all district employees were taught the initiatives aimed at improving this or that, but there was very fundamentals of this method of improvement. However, over little alignment throughout the district to ensure the success time, the PDSA method has been tailored to meet the unique of those initiatives. And the worst part of it all was that the needs of specific areas of the school district. expectations for the entire district, from its leadership to the performance of its students, were extremely low.” Currently, Iredell-Statesville uses three primary PDSA templates: Holliday’s experience using quality tools in education dates • The first is the common PDSA form used for most large-scale back to the 1980s, when he took part in a program called the process improvements. Nearly every district and school leader Total Quality Education Initiative in South Carolina. He used his uses this form to detail and update improvement cycles. status as an alumni examiner for the Baldrige National Quality In 2004, the PDSA method used in Iredell-Statesville Program to train and prepare members of the Iredell-Statesville underwent a PDSA process of its own. Feedback from Schools work force to embrace a new philosophy. Because the many stakeholders, particularly teachers, indicated that the district was fairly large, Holliday recognized that he faced the common PDSA template w

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