Written by Cary Black
As a parent and Quality Professional, I have had a great personal interest in exploring Quality Principles in application to the public education of my children. I feel lucky in that my children have had the opportunity to attend Handley and the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy (SASA) for their K-12 education. Both of these schools offer unique approaches to education enhancement with progressive curriculums and an emphasis in diversity.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program instituted at Handley two years ago is a fine example of how these schools, through unique and diverse approaches are actively improving the Quality of the their student’s education. It is a great honor for me to have Kathy and Beverly present the essence of the IB program to our section. We hope to integrate their presentation with aspects of how Quality Tools and Concepts can be applied to our education systems, and hopefully open the doors for our section to become an active resource for our local education community.
Certainly many of us have read and have various degrees of familiarity with the handful of public school districts that have embraced Baldrige or other Quality based initiatives as a basis for improving teaching and learning within the classrooms.
A fundamental principle that drives the Baldrige approach in education is the ageold Quality concept of PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, and Act). Having the PDSA strategy as an overriding guide in the Kaizen process for education naturally leads to improvements in all aspects of the educational process.
The PDSA process as an over-all philosophy can drive the continuous improvements of the educational system. To drive the PDSA itself, teacher’s, students, and administrators can be taught simple Quality Tools and strategies such as Brainstorming, Root Cause Analysis, Pareto charting, Fishbone diagrams, Affinity diagrams and a plethora of other basic Quality Tools. These tools can be used to benchmark, define, and accelerate the continuous mprovement processes within the PDSA philosophy.
ASQ has put forth multiple ‘Quality in Education’ programs where basic Quality tools can be applied to the classroom. One such program called Koalaty Kid has been incorporated into over 70 schools throughout the United States. In a Quality Progress article from August of 1996, Donna Green defines ASQ’s Koalaty Kid program as follows:
“What Is Koalaty Kid?
Koalaty Kid is a system for continuous improvement in a can-do atmosphere.
This student-centered approach aims to create a school environment in which all
• Sustain enthusiasm for learning
• Behave responsibly
• Feel proud of themselves and their achievements
• Strive to meet high standards
To achieve these ends, Koalaty Kid embraces both the spirit and the substance of total quality. School teams apply quality principles and tools to make changes they deem important. At the same time, Koalaty Kid emphasizes a positive school environment, establishes high standards, provides delight in successes, recognizes accomplishments, and produces excitement about challenges.
Using the Koalaty Kid approach, teams first identify targets for improvement. Then they work toward achieving those targets by establishing standards of excellence, communicating clear expectations, involving all stakeholders (everyone who has an interest in the process or the outcome), managing by processes, measuring progress, and
recognizing and rewarding success.
By applying this approach to well-chosen areas, schools can create an environment in which students maintain excitement about learning, behave responsibly, feel proud of their accomplishments, and form a habit of excellence.
In such a setting, students thrive. Equally important, they learn how to work with others toward mutual goals. The other real benefit is that students also learn how to apply the principles, techniques, and tools of total quality-all of the skills that will have immeasurable value later in life.”
As Chair of the Saginaw Section, I am hopeful that our membership can play a role in our respective communities and become an active resource for our local public and private educational forums.
Please come to our dinner meeting and let’s enjoy some unique and interesting perspective on Quality in Education.
Chairman of the Board
ASQ Saginaw Section 1004