Red Beads and Profound Knowledge: Deming and Quality of Education

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

Sharon Lohr presented the 2014 American Statistical Association (ASA) Deming Lecture – Red Beads and Profound Knowledge: Deming and Quality of Education (slides with notes and references). Dr. Lohr earned her doctorate in statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she learned about Deming’s philosophy and met Dr. Deming.

YouTube video

Quoting W. Edwards Deming in her presentation:

Numerical goals accomplish nothing. Ranking and reward of individual people, schools, districts, do not improve the system. Only the method is important. By what method?

Sharon Lohr:

We need good data to be able to improve the system. And we can’t get those good data if they are being distorted by false figures… the effects of these false figures cascade throughout the system.

She also referenced Dr. Deming: Fear invites wrong figures.

Sharon discusses the importance of understanding the limits of what conclusions that can be drawn from the data. It is important to understand what data is and is not telling you.

And Sharon states the data available can be used to understand the system but the data is very weak for evaluating individual teachers. However school systems throughout the country as using the data in order to evaluate individual teachers.

I really enjoyed this presentation and the questions and answers at the end. I imagine quite a few of our blog readers won’t be as interested in the first half of the presentation (it is a very focused on some statistical details). If that is the case for you, I suggest moving forward to middle and watching it from there.

Related: Applying Dr. Deming’s Ideas at the Lakeville Public School SystemQuality Comes to City Hall (Madison, Wisconsin)Quality Beginnings: Deming and MadisonAnalyzing Data Requires an Understanding of the System Generating the Data

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