Deming Today: Leander Texas Independent School District

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By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog.

The Leander Texas Independent School District (LISD) has been applying Dr. Deming’s ideas to education for years with guidance from David Langford.

cover image for Deming Today report - photo with kids and a teacher

One of the sections of The W. Edwards Deming Institute website provides views of organizations efforts to apply Deming’s ideas today. Here is an excerpt from the report on the efforts at the Leander Independent School District:

Over the years, and due in large part to Akin’s leadership, LISD has put into practice many of Dr. Deming’s theories and teachings. They have developed a true appreciation for systems thinking. They have utilized the learning and knowledge that can be gained from the PDSA Cycle. They have created control charts and analysis of common and special case variance within the LISD system. And they have cultivated important humanistic, motivational, and psychological factors that Dr. Deming addressed in his System of Profound Knowledge.

Introducing, establishing, and utilizing Dr. Deming’s theories and teachings as a guiding force within LISD, as is the case with most organizations that seek to find a new way through Deming, has not always been a smooth and seamless process. For Akin, one obstacle in particular stands out – teacher evaluations.

They took their request to remove teacher evaluations from LISD to the Texas State Commissioner of Schools, and were granted a waiver, but only under certain conditions. They had to agree to develop a new process to regularly evaluate their staff. With the help of an improvement team composed of teachers and central office staff, they set out to unbundle the teacher evaluation system into two parts: a revised evaluation system focused on issues related to rehiring and a teacher portfolio system focused on ongoing learning and self-improvement. These requirements would put a smile on the face of anyone who’s familiar with Dr. Deming’s 14 Points for the Transformation of Management, since points 6 and 13 are specifically concerned with an organization making available for its staff ongoing training and self-improvement programs.

I learned about the capacity matrix and learning portfolio system from David Langford long ago. It is a powerful way to capture the learning of a student (you need to sign in to view the documents, creating an account is free). The tool provides a great visual management view of the learning process, including what else needs to be learned.

It is also a great tool to view the continual learning needed in organizations. I strongly suggest anyone serious about improving the learning process look into the learning portfolio system. Wether the learning is in a formal education system or not this is a great tool to improve the learning process.

David Langford is presenting a 2 day education seminar immediately preceding our annual conference this year. The seminar will be held October 16-17, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Related: Attributing Fault to the Person Without Considering the SystemUsing Control Charts to Aid in Improving the Classroom Learning EnvironmentDr. Deming Video: A Theory of a System for Educators and Managers

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