ASQ - Education Division

ASQ's ImpaQT Training Exposes Educators to Basic Quality

By Ann Haggerty Raines, ImpaQT trainer

Problem solving and making improvements seem to be hard-wired inclinations among educators. Teachers and administrators have seen to it that students achieve, in many cases, against the odds. Federal and state education authorities have created clear, demanding expectations of outcomes without a great deal of instruction on how best accomplish those outcomes.

Educators who have engaged in ASQ's ImpaQT training have been exposed to both a model for sustainable school improvement and the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle for improvement with integrated quality tools.

The training's impact

ImpaQT training is an aligned suite of modular courses for classrooms, schools and districts that use continuous improvement practices to generate higher student achievement. The training builds a framework to align adequate yearly progress plans with state and federal requirements, aligns continuous improvement efforts districtwide through a manageable three-module training process and gives educators tools for increasing achievement in all continuous improvement areas.

Teachers, school leaders and districts have used consensus tools such as affinity diagrams, consensograms and light-voting to identify both problems and potential solutions, solicit a broad base of information and enlist support for future change. At a classroom and district level, tools such as run charts and Pareto diagrams help teachers and curriculum coordinators understand the variation inherent in the system, determine focus and root cause, and then have a measurement against which to gauge the impact of strategic change.

Solving problems

By understanding the importance of solving problems by first identifying the root cause, educators embrace cause and effect diagrams, relations diagrams and other cause analysis tools. Decision-making matrixes, such as the is/is not and selection types, have helped schools and districts use team input to yield better decisions and higher levels of buy-in among stakeholders.

Planning tools such as force-field analysis, tree diagrams and Gantt charts help make good intentions into a plan with deadlines and accountability to ensure that the greatest amount of change happens smoothly.

Educators are able to realize their intuitive desire to make improvements by using the tools in the context of the PDSA cycle. Perhaps the greater benefit is that PDSA and other quality tools give educators a vocabulary about problem solving and improvement, and permission and encouragement to tackle the challenges that children, schools and districts face.


Ann Haggerty Raines, a trainer and consultant, has developed and implemented customized programs for quality deployment with such diverse clients as school districts, hospitals, business and industry. As a master trainer for ASQ, Raines has been actively involved in school and classroom improvement since 1992 and is one of the authors and designers of the ImpaQt training initiative. Raines earned her bachelor's degree in English from Mount Holyoke College with a concentration in psychology and education, and continued studies in continuous improvement and HR management.

For more information about ImpaQT training, visit www.asq.org/impaqt. To learn more about some of the tools mentioned in this article, visit www.asq.org/learn-about-quality/ tools-templates.html.

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