In the United States, one-third of eighth graders are proficient in reading. One-third of high school students do not graduate on time. One-third of first-year college students require remediation in either math or English.
Is it any surprise that one-third of K-12 teachers approve of how their schools are run?
The figures come from a study of school performance by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. The fact that these three organizations can write a report together when they rarely agree on anything suggests that this is not just a right-wing or left-wing issue.
The study evaluated state performance in eight categories: school management; finance; staffing—hiring and evaluation; staffing—removing ineffective teachers; data; pipeline to postsecondary; technology; and state reform environment. You can see how your state did here. You can read about the methodology behind the grades here.
The report offers a blunt assessment: “Our school system needs far-reaching innovation. It is archaic and broken, a relic of a time when high school graduates could expect to live prosperous lives…And while the challenges are many—inflexible regulations, excessive bureaucracy, a dearth of fresh thinking—the bottom line is that most education institutions simply lack the tools, incentives, and opportunities to reinvent themselves in profoundly more effective ways.”
The report’s sponsors “propose a framework for change intended to address the structural problems facing our nation’s education systems.” Someone should have introduced them to the Baldrige model and to the K-12 districts that have received the Baldrige Award because integrating Baldrige addresses several of the sponsors’ recommendations, such as to:
- Reinvent education management. The report recommends creating a flexible, performance-focused management system. Baldrige asks the right questions to get this done.
- Hold individuals and organizations responsible for performance. The Baldrige model does what the report recommends: developing better accountability measures, measuring outcomes, and taking action based on results.
- Develop statewide longitudinal data systems and provide better information to schools, teachers, and the public. You need to understand the problem to fix it or, for Baldrige organizations: You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- Research and develop promising instructional practices and school models. Benchmarking is a best practice of high-performing Baldrige organizations.
It will be interesting to see if Terry Holliday can use his Baldrige passion and experience to improve K-12 education in Kentucky. Holliday was the superintendent at 2008 Baldrige Award-winning Iredell-Statesville Schools before becoming Kentucky’s commissioner of education this past summer. You can read Holliday’s account of “The Road to the Baldrige Award” here.
To read “Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Innovation,” click here.