Monday, May 11, 2009

Baldrige and K-12: Long Beach Unified

As the slow creep of "Total Quality Management" and "Baldrige" permeates my school, I've continued searching for research into just how effective these strategies have been in K-12 schools. I've noticed a certain circularity of "success stories" on the 'Net told between consulting firms and a small set of schools who have purchased the services of these consulting firms.

Another noteworthy aspect of these "success stories" is that they are all from the early part of the 2000s. I'm not seeing much from this half of the decade. Now this could be from my own bias/cherry picking, but I'm doing a fairly good job, I think, in trying to find both the good and the bad.

Regardless of bias, I'm having a heck of a time finding a broad, statistically relevant longitudinal look at how Baldrige using schools/districts are doing. So, in a weak attempt to start connecting the dots, I submit two websites devoted to Long Beach Unified School District in California.

First, here's a story from 2004 in which Long Beach gets a $1.1 million grant...

The Broad Foundation recently awarded $1.14 million to the Long Beach Unified School District to expand the district’s award-winning use of Baldrige strategies for continuous improvement at schools and central offices.

The three-year grant will help to increase use of the techniques throughout the district, including elementary, middle, K-8 and high school classrooms.

And here's the "Great Schools" report on Long Beach schools, including quite a bit of test score data from 2005-2008.

I don't know the L.A. area very well, but just for grins here's the report for the nearby Santa Ana Unified Schools.

I know...I know...inconclusive. Still, I'm doubting Jim Shipley and Associates and other Baldrige consulting firms are holding Long Beach up as a "success story". Speaking of grants, does anybody wanna throw me $1.1 million, so I can do a full-blown Baldrige/K-12 analysis myself? Heck, I'll drop my price to $999,999.99. Buy now and save.

As many others have noted before...wouldn't it be nice to see something substantive citing exactly why we're plunging into BaldrigeSpeakLand? If someone knows of something that doesn't come from Jim Shipley, et. al., directly, I'd love to read it.

P.S.: Yes, I know..using standardized test score data is somewhat repugnant. But that's how this stuff is being sold, so when in SBA Rome....


Abuelita2 said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! for looking for any research showing that stuff works! I also have looked and looked. There is also a harmful aspect to it. When you post class achievement charts, and exhort "us all" to work harder to make the class score go up, you are truly grinding down the two or three children who do learn differently, or at a different pace, and know darn well they are a significant reason the bar isn't higher. They are already "trying harder," and it isn't working, and they just feel like more of a failure.

Anonymous said...

You are right abuelita, and the Sped and ELL kids in the school know they are the ones failing the entire school as well.

Why is Obama following the same education path as Bush?

Abuelita2 said...

Jeez, I have no idea! Maybe because in community organizing in Chicago, he saw first-hand the horrible school situations minority kids suffered under. Maybe he understand racial and cultural minority, but not individual differences. Maybe because he sees that in some school situations about the only thing you can do is wipe it all clean and start anew. Maybe he's placating the conservatives, and will be more logical later. Maybe it's one area he just doesn't have a clue!

jscotkey said...


I'm swamped with end of year stuff (and the "scheduling wars" have again been rekindled at my school), but I received an interesting little email yesterday from a professor who did some earlier "studies" about Baldrige and K-12. I'll ask her if I can pass her comments on via this little blog (or simply forwarded emails to those interested).

More later, but right now I have to go get my scheduling war sword and go all Macbeth on some folks.

Abuelita2 said...

I hope you can pass on the comments of the professor who did the Baldrige & K-12 study. I want very much to see it.

jscotkey said...

Abuelita2: Send me an email and I'll get her comments to you pronto. I'd put them here, but she hasn't responded to an email I sent to make them "public".