Real-world examples of schools and districts using quality tools and processes

Quality in Primary and Secondary Education

Case Studies

Some real-world examples of schools and districts using quality tools and processes to improve student performance.

Cutting Wasteful Steps, Improving Efficiency in Contract Procurement Process Saves Chicago Public Schools Millions
The third largest school district in the United States, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), manages more than $2 billion in annual contract obligations for services and supplies. Identifying a need to improve a procurement process that had long grown inefficient, CPS officials hired consultant George Chemers to support the implementation of the new vision for an efficient process. Through a number of workshops, Chemers helped staff identify opportunities to streamline the contract procurement process while also improving budget forecasting. The lean review cut the process in half while saving the school district millions of dollars.
April 2015

A Wisconsin School District's Lean Route to Improving Student Literacy
Corporate With student literacy scores becoming stagnant, Kimberly Area School District (Kimberly) teachers used lean tools to address one of the most complex issues facing teachers. As a result of standard work created by teachers, the culture within school buildings changed from independent to collaborative. Upon employing standard work around planning and instruction, Kimberly’s literacy results improved dramatically.
February 2015

Origami Lean Training Exercise
Providing hands-on experiences to students is essential for lean workshops. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, can be used to provide students with a hands-on experience for understanding process thinking and process steps. The activity can be effective at conveying quality tools and concepts for all age groups.
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September 2014

10-Year Quality Journey Leads to Baldrige Honor for Wisconsin School District
A decade ago, as the Pewaukee School District deployed the Baldrige framework, it also embraced a systematic problem solving culture, resulting in innovative solutions for serving students. By tailoring instruction to meet students’ needs, key measures such as graduation rates and ACT scores improved significantly. Using quality examiner feedback as an improvement road map, the district captured three Wisconsin Forward Awards before earning the nation’s highest quality recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, in 2013.
July 2014

North Carolina School District Overcomes Admin Turnover, Budget Cuts to Fuel Improvement
After working for more than five years to meet its quality success goal, Iredell-Statesville Schools (North Carolina) was named a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient in 2008. But when a key administrator left his job soon after and the national economic recession clamped tight on public money coming into the school district, the staff's commitment to continuous improvement was challenged more than ever before. Firmly committed to the PDSA cycle, staff have streamlined processes, saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and helped students achieve more in the classroom than ever before.
July 2014

Using Quality Tools and Lean Solutions, Pennsylvania Schools Save Millions (PDF, 146 KB)
In 2003, a quality team at Mt. Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania created a new school supply procurement system in conjunction with a global office supplies retailer. Using various quality tools to revamp the district’s system, the improvement team helped save the district about $250,000 in four years. The district’s success led to the creation of a dynamic customized quality procurement system that has helped streamline the processes and reduce the cost of supplies for more than 100 schools in western Pennsylvania.
December 2013.

Quality Strategy Improves Business School Placements (PDF, 103 KB)
Using competitive benchmarking and quality tools, Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies improved job placement results for its students, decreasing the number of interviews required to secure a position and increasing the mean salary offer, while also adding a new source of revenue for the organization.
March 2013.

Certifiably Improving Quality Professionals (PDF, 313 KB)
From the moment multiple ASQ certification holder and senior member Bill Hooper began tutoring his first ASQ Michiana Section pupil, he realized that teaching is his call to service in supporting the quality cause. Since 2005, Bill has taught certification bodies of knowledge to more than 80 individuals with a 95 percent pass rate. Through teaching others, Bill has become a better practitioner with his own process improvement project savings in the multimillions.
January 2012 .

Business School Improves Learning, Research, and Placement Measures With TQM (PDF, 385 KB)
A cross-functional team at RIMS, a graduate business school in India, used TQM principles to improve measures of learning, faculty research, and graduate placement. The team earned the “Award of Distinction” in the 2010 Education Team Excellence Award process.
February 2011.

ISU’s Facilities Planning and Management Organization Uses State Award as Guidepost on Quality Journey (PDF, 178 KB)
The facilities planning and management operation at Iowa State University is one of only three organizations in the past 10 years to earn the Baldrige-based Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence gold award.
April 2010.

CQPA Certification Provides Competitive Edge for New Grads (PDF, 289 KB)
Brigham Young University statistics and quality science majors who earned the Certified Quality Process Analyst (CQPA) certification quickly found internships and full-time employment.
February 2010.

Texas District Uses Peer Assessments to Measure Scorecard Achievement (PDF, 194 KB)
The Aldine Independent School District’s peer review assessment model has received state and national recognition as a best practice for performance improvement. The model helps the district gauge the level of deployment for strategic goals, objectives, and action plans.
October 2009.

Can a Fishbone Diagram Stop a Bully? (PDF, 373 KB)
In Community Consolidated School District 15, elementary students use quality tools to set goals, track academic progress, and even address behavioral issues such as playground bullying.
September 2009.

PDSA: A Road Map to Improved Writing Skills (PDF, 340 KB)
Using the plan, do, study, act cycle, Winston Campus Elementary in Palatine, Illinois, boosted sixth grade student writing test scores by 36 percent.
September 2009.

Former Baldrige Recipient Rekindles Its Quality Fire (PDF, 256 KB)
Since Community Consolidated School District 15 in suburban Chicago received the Baldrige award in 2003, front-line staff members have continued the improvement effort by relying on quality tools such as the plan, do, study, act model.
August 2009.

Quality Club Teaches Today’s Learners to Become Tomorrow's Leaders (PDF, 186 KB)
Students who participate in a quality club at Hunting Ridge School in Palatine, Illinois, learn continuous improvement methods and then conduct training sessions for their peers.
August 2009.

Achieving and Sustaining Excellence in Education (PDF, 133 KB)
Bevard Public Schools became only the second Florida school district – and the first in more than 15 years – to receive the Baldrige-based Governor’s Sterling Award for Performance Excellence. The district applies an aligned approach to achieving the goals in its strategic plan, a scorecard to measure results and ensure accountability, and a systematic approach to continuous improvement rooted in the principles of the plan-do-check-act cycle.
August 2008.

Taking a Snapshot in Time: Pewaukee School District’s Approach to Baldrige-Based Award Program (PDF, 101 KB)
The Pewaukee School District became the first K-12 district to receive a Mastery level award in the Baldrige-based Wisconsin Forward Award (WFA) program. Pewaukee’s continuous improvement activities extend beyond student learning to all corners of operations.
August 2008.

Wisconsin School District Captures State Quality Awards by Collaborating for Continuous Improvement (PDF, 82 KB)
In 2004, Viking Elementary School in the Holmen School District became the first K-12 applicant for the Baldrige-based Wisconsin Forward Award, earning a Proficiency level award. One year later, Holmen Middle School captured a Wisconsin Forward Award at the Commitment level. The district’s continuous improvement effort emphasizes the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycle and teacher collaboration.
August 2008.

Iredell-Statesville School District: Using Baldrige to Improve Teaching and Learning
Iredell-Statesville School District shows how a sustained effort to use the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) method and the Baldrige framework can bring results like improved reading scores and SAT scores. 
May 2008.

Growing Indiana School District Stretches for Improvement Using Baldrige Model (PDF, 176 KB)
With test scores rising and new schools opening, the Westfield Washington School District, an ASQ institutional member, decided the time was right to take on greater challenges and reach for higher levels of continuous quality improvement. The district submitted its first application for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in spring 2007.
October 2007.

Iowa School District Charts the Path for Continuous Improvement Journey
Introduced in 2006, the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s continuous improvement initiative uses the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence framework. Although it’s early in the journey, the district has already earned a bronze award in the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence awards program.
May 2007.

Continuous Improvement in Public Schools Through ISO 9001:2000 (PDF, 276 KB)
Since Racine Unified School District achieved ISO 9001:2000 certification, the district has made notable progress in closing the achievement gap between demographic groups in reading and math, decreasing truancy and suspensions and increasing parent satisfaction.
October 2006.

Illinois School District Makes the Grade (PDF, 163 KB)
Since Pekin District launched a Koalaty Kid program in 2000, standardized test results for the district have consistently exceeded the state average, and two of its schools have earned No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon awards.
July 2006.

Henking Elementary Closes the Learning Gap (PDF, 113 KB)
Henking Elementary School used its Koalaty Kid program and the plan-do-study-act cycle to improve student writing scores significantly over the course of one school year.
June 2006.

Nevada School District Saves Millions Through Process Management (PDF, 53 KB)
Clark County School District, the largest school district in America to be ISO 9001:2000 certified, has accommodated a rapidly expanding student population while achieving $174 million in cost avoidance and cost savings over 10 years.
May 2006.

Student Achievement Soars With Use of Quality Strategies (PDF, 53 KB)
The Kingsley Elementary approach to writing excellence can help schools targeted by No Child Left Behind meet acceptable standards in one year. Using the Four Square writing method and the Koalaty Kid program, Kingsley Elementary improved student scores on achievement tests by 49% in one year and 68% over four years.

A Class Act (PDF, 281 KB)
How the continuous improvement efforts at one school district in Palatine, Illinois, resulted in a Baldrige Award, increased learning and improved parent, student and teacher satisfaction.

Applying an Excellence Model to Schools (PDF, 197 KB)
A large-scale study in Portugal shows quality models such as the Baldrige Award and the European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model can help schools continuously improve.

A Systems View of Improving School Performance (PDF, 134 KB)
A Pennsylvania school district used the ISO 9001:2000 quality management system as a framework for improving school performance and raising student achievement.

Quality Management in Education: Building Excellence and Equity in Student Performance (PDF, 213 KB)
A school district in Brazosport, Texas, used quality management to improve equity and student achievement, transforming its approach to education and earning the Texas Quality Award in 1998 and a site visit from the Baldrige Award judges in 1999.

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