Posted by Christine Schaefer
A new case study offered by ASQ this summer describes ongoing improvements in a public school district that has seen growing poverty and decreased funding in recent years. The Iredell-Statesville Schools (I-SS), located in southwestern North Carolina, earned the Baldrige Award for systemwide excellence in 2008. With 21,231 students today, I-SS has maintained its strong focus on student achievement despite significant budget cuts that have eliminated more than 300 positions in recent years.
For example, the case study notes that through educators’ analysis of data on student learning and improvements in instruction, an I-SS elementary school serving a very high-poverty population (90 percent of students receive subsidized school meals) boosted reading proficiency among first graders from a rate of 62 percent in 2011-2012 to a rate of 82 percent in 2013-2014. What’s more, the principal of the school reported that students in five of the site’s six grade levels were performing at or above the previous year’s proficiency levels by the midpoint of the 2013-2014 school year.
I-SS has surmounted financial and other crushing challenges before. Its turnaround story in the years preceding its 2008 Baldrige Award (shared in Baldrige 20/20, pp. 68-72) showed the promise of the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence to improve the performance of public school systems in good times or bad.
Dr. Melanie Taylor, I-SS’s deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction, authored the July 2014 ASQ case study. At the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference in April 2014, Taylor presented on using the Baldrige management framework to improve the efficiency of district operations and the effectiveness of school instructional programs (see graphic below). For Taylor’s tips for other educational leaders who are new to the Baldrige approach to systemwide improvement, read the pre-conference interview.