The Relation Among School Health, Quality Principles for Organization and Student Achievement
In the past, reform issues have come strictly from the top with a focus on new programs in each subject area, state testing for accountability, and rote knowledge along with a great deal of memorization on the part of the students.
Teachers have been under a great deal of pressure and have been given an unbelievable amount of responsibility under the assumption that “deficits in a school’s performance necessarily stem from an inadequate and incompetent teaching force” (Marshall, Pritchard & Gunderson, 2004).
However, W. E. Deming had a different perspective on what made a successful organization and believed that these out-dated theories “discouraged workers’ contributions” (2004).
In this article, the authors wanted to really see what the correlations were between Deming’s 14 Points for Total Quality Management, the organizational health in school districts and individual schools, and actually student achievement.
The study focused individually on each of Deming’s 14 Points when analyzing each of the schools in 18 school districts.
Deming’s 14 Points “pulled together humanistic management principles that emphasized the quality of the work environment, collaborative thinking and continuous training for all employees” (Marshall et al., 2004), measuring improvement and not necessarily results.
The researchers in this study went into each school in each school district and interviewed those at each level, studied relevant documents, and analyzed environments in order to determine if each of Deming’s points were evident.
For each point evident, each school either received a 1 or 0. Four sets of data were pulled together being, the relation between organizational health and Deming’s 14 Points, then a quantitative comparison of the four districts that scored the lowest in organizational health and the four that scored the highest, the scores of student essays taken from these eight districts, and finally the positive or negative content of each student essay.
Overall, those schools that scored the highest in organizational health also scored highest on every one of Deming’s 14 Points.
The districts scoring highest displayed “strong constancy of purpose focused on high-quality teaching and student learning” (Marshall et al., 2004).
They also focused on “best practices” which teachers felt like they were greatly supported in through “extensive staff development and ongoing teacher and administrator study groups” (2004).
Administrators in these schools made teacher collaboration a high priority, encouraging teachers to get more involved in planning and curriculum programs in the school.
Even though state assessments are a huge concern in school districts across the US, in the higher scoring schools in this study these tests were not even a factor, much less were they even mentioned unless specifically asked about them.
This one factor was simply because of the “high level of trust among teachers and between teachers and administrators at all levels of the district” (2004). Therefore, the teachers in all of these schools trusted in the decisions that the central office was making for them.
This relationship was so strong that teachers felt like they could focus on teaching and learning because the strong central office was taking care of most of the administrative tasks typically passed down to teachers.
What interested you in this essay?
Each of the schools that scored lower in this study had the basic characteristics that could be seen in the majority of districts across the US; no particular vision or direction, outdated modes for instruction, a lack of consistency in viewpoints across the school in regards to quality education and best practices, drill-and-practice techniques being used in preparation for state testing, fear and intimidation being used to hold teachers accountable for students scores, and a serious lack of trust on the part of the students and teachers in administration.
“In all four low health districts, teaching (and district) effectiveness was based on test results, with administrators and teachers under heavy pressure to produce” (Marshall et al., 2004).
In student essays, much was revealed to researchers in regards to the high level of stress inflicted on students due to state testing as well as a boredom about what they were actually learning.
Confident, capable teachers were entering the school systems, with teachers performing well below their potential either leaving the school district altogether or withdrawing into their classrooms and becoming very aggressive shortly after.
In this study, it quickly became obvious that the use of Deming’s 14 Points helped to foster positive school environments for all involved, with a great deal of collaboration, teacher involvement, and stress-free teachers able to focus on teaching and learning being able to trust strongly in their administration and in their district.
Those schools not using these 14 Points and providing positive environments for those within, scored low on organizational health and even lower on student achievement.
It is obvious that Deming had the right ideas when it came to creating and sustaining successful organizations. Supporting all of the other texts in our course this semester, we now have solid proof that using these principles towards creating a positive environment in one’s organization is valuable.
We have also seen what happens in organizations that do not value their organizations and instead let them become negative, stressful, high intensity environment for all participating.
I have personally worked in too many schools that would have been in the lower scoring group. I recognized all of the characteristics the authors discussed that they saw in these unhealthier school districts.
I have never agreed with state assessments and the great focus placed on them over the years. Having been a teacher myself, I have personally experienced and witnessed all of the many variables that factor into student achievement, including parent attitudes, unhealthy students due to lack of sleep, lack of proper diet, and abuse at home, stress placed on teachers which then transfers to students, unreasonable expectations placed on students and teachers, unreasonable demands and responsibilities placed on teacher time, worthless instructional programs, an emphasis on drill-and-practice with students in lower grade levels having to memorize their objectives and state standards rather than learning the skills themselves, etc.
Oh, the list could go on forever. It is unbelievably unreasonable to expect teachers to be completely responsible for student achievement alone.
However, a great deal of research and experience since my time as a school teachers has taught me a lot about providing the right environment and example for learning before expecting results from learners.
I have learned that I am as much to fault as one of those extenuating variables affecting learners as all of the others. As W. E. Deming has pointed out in his Total Quality Management theory, “organizations either improve or deteriorate; they never stay the same” (Marshall et al., 2004).
“New employees enter an organization energetic, high in commitment but relatively low in competence” (2004). It is my job as the owner of my business to create the right environment allowing for my consultants to grow in competence and even in commitment as they learn the values and expectations of the business and slowly retain them as their own.
I will certainly be printing out these 14 Points for my own use, pinning them on the wall so as not to forget them. With all of this valuable research showing the value of these principles, it would be foolish not to take them as my own and abide by them in my own business.
Marshall, J. C., Pritchard, R. J., & Gunderson, B. H. (2004). The relation among school district health, total quality principles for school organization and student achievement. School Leadership & Management, (24)2. Retrieved April 5, 2012, from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=a12f9f62-f7ee-42d4-94c5-bd89d199eab0%40sessionmgr13&vid=1&hid=17.
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness