Purpose: The purpose of the study was to identify the impact on achievement when schools implement a continuous improvement model using Total Quality Management (TQM) principles aligned to strategic planning and the culture of the school.
Data collection and analysis: The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods and was conducted in two phases. Three elementary schools within a suburban school district were the units of analysis in this case study. The district was chosen because of the stable commitment to training in TQM and because the researcher had access to data about the district, the schools and the initiative. The sampling intentionally selected schools representing varying levels of socioeconomic and cultural diversity.
Phase I involved the administration of the University of Minnesota School Culture Survey. The questionnaire addressed the implementation of TQM principles and was administered to a total of 65 teachers in three schools. The surveys were analyzed for descriptive data. Commonalities and differences from the survey were used to develop the interview questions.
Phase II involved fifteen teachers and three administrators from the three schools, drawing on the survey results and probing into the day to day experience of teachers and administrators facing the initiatives of school improvement planning.
The principals of these schools were interviewed again at the conclusion of the study to update the sustainability of the continuous improvement efforts. The superintendent was also interviewed at this time to give a district perspective on student achievement over time.
Findings: First, TQM principles have successfully been implemented in all three schools with an emphasis on a systems approach to increase student learning. Second, principals have a critical role in holding and sharing the vision, implementing shared leadership, providing professional development and utilizing data to drive instructional decisions. Third, with the implementation of quality tools, all schools demonstrated improvement. Higher levels of achievement were attained in schools with consistent enrollment and minimal demographic changes. Fourth, the combination of TQM principles, strategic planning and supportive school culture positively impact the achievement gap. The findings of this study are useful to teachers and administrators whose main goal is improving student learning.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. February 2010. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Karen Seashore. 1 computer file (PDF), viii, 168 pages, appendices A-C.
Grumdahl, Constance Rae.
How schools can effectively plan to meet the goal of improving student learning..
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