When Montgomery County Public Schools earned a Baldrige Award four years ago, it became the largest and most culturally diverse school district in the nation to have yet achieved the prestigious honor. Recently, staff members of the district shared how they continue to use processes based on the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence to prepare students for future employment—including “jobs that do not exist today” but may be important tomorrow in a world of innovation and economic changes.
What are a few reasons that a school district can find value in implementing the Baldrige framework today?
With limited resources, it is vital to work smarter, not harder. Resources must be aligned with goals. Baldrige does this. For example, the framework helps us implement a strategic plan that integrates our key competency areas of academic excellence, creative problem solving, and social emotional learning. And we use our school improvement plan to drive what we do and how we allocate our resources. With this framework in place, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) maintains a focus on quality, rigor, and accountability.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) set the learning goals and define the knowledge and skills students should master to be college- and career-ready. By implementing the Baldrige Criteria, your school district is able to pinpoint organizational strengths and tools for implementing the curriculum, tracking outcomes, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
How do you use Baldrige processes to support your district’s adoption of the CCSS?
CCSS needs to be part of a comprehensive approach to support rigorous student learning, and the Baldrige Criteria serve as a comprehensive framework for performance excellence. The framework focuses on results and requires management by fact and helps an organization stay customer- and market-focused.
CCSS supports the expectation that students take ownership of their own learning. So students should be able to defend and justify their responses through multiple solution paths; frame solutions in context; identify variables and interpret results; choose appropriate learning tools; identify structure for their task; identify most efficient solutions to a task; and make connections to prior knowledge.
We use a collaborative planning process to ensure that we are implementing the curriculum across our system systematically. Here are our process steps, with questions we address at each one:
1. Plan: What is the indicator or standard asking our students to do? What are the difficult points for teachers? Students? What are the connections to prior/future learning? How will the thinking and academic skills be addressed?
2. Do: What is acceptable evidence of proficiency with the indicator?What is the sequence of learning? How will we identify ways instruction can be adjusted to meet the needs of all learners?
3. Study: How will we know students are learning it? Review data points around multiple pathways.
4. Act: What do we do if they already know it? What do we do if they do not learn it?
Additional insights to share?
The thinking and academic skills that we are helping students build in MCPS align with the CCSS emphasis on the development of critical skills; for instance, problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are vital to students’ future success in college and workplaces. The skills we are building to prepare students for future work also include intellectual risk taking, collaboration, synthesis, persistence, analysis, evaluation, fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and metacognition.
For more information, attend the district’s presentation, “Using Baldrige to Implement the Common Core,” at the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference in Baltimore, Maryland on Tuesday, April 8.