1. Baldrige award-winning university breaks ground (again) with benchmarking project

    October 4, 2018 by ahmed


    By Jennanelson02 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    An assistant chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout—a Baldrige Award recipient—helped develop a national benchmarking project that will soon provide comparative data for the nation’s universities to better measure their performance.The project will involve collecting data for performance measures of nonacademic support units within four-year, post-secondary education institutions in the United States. Meridith Wentz, who directs UW-Stout’s office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ), is playing a leading role in the effort in partnership with the National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute (NHEBI) at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, Kansas.

    JCCC Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Research John Clayton, who oversees the NHEBI, recently conveyed that he is excited by the prospect of the partnership with UW-Stout. “The Benchmarking Institute has provided this kind of data to the two-year college sector for 15 years,” he said. “Since 2004, over 400 two-year colleges have relied on us to provide comparative data on many key indicators to improve efficiency, institutional effectiveness, and student outcomes.”

    Wentz, who is also a senior Baldrige examiner, has overseen several other ground-breaking improvement efforts at her university in recent years. One example, is UW-Stout’s annual “You Said, We Did” institutional improvements based on faculty and staff input.

    “She described the new benchmarking project as “another example of how the Baldrige program has helped [our university] grow and improve.”

    Project Scope and Measures
    Asked how many other universities will be involved in the benchmarking project, Wentz responded, “For the first year [the university’s fiscal year 2019, which begins this fall], we’re targeting 25 to 50 other four-year universities. The long-term goal is to involve over 300 institutions per year.” She added that the NHEBI previously launched a similar initiative involving two-year colleges that has “consistently had 250 colleges per year” reporting data.

    Wentz provided two examples of standard measures for the project, as follows:

    • Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) allocated to the work of a support unit within a university. Data for this measure will be split between centralized and decentralized staff members, she explained, given that (beyond staff members working full-time in such a unit) universities often have some personnel based in other administrative units on campus who help support the work of centralized units.
    • Budget allocated to the work of a support unit, split by personnel and non-personnel and by centralized and decentralized

    The project also will collect data for outcome metrics, she said, citing as an example the retention rate of faculty and staff members as a measure associated with a university’s Human Resources office.

    Project Phases
    As stated in a recent UW-Stout news story, Wentz said a stimulus for the project was the “need to make our [internal] review process more meaningful using benchmarking data.” Faced with a lack of comparative results to provide context for her office’s performance measurements of UW-Stout support units, Wentz decided to help develop such data. “We wanted to provide more meaningful data for continuous improvement,” she said.

    Wentz and her PARQ colleagues Frank Oakgrove and Elena Carroll are currently developing metrics for the NHEBI project, to be refined based on input from a national advisory board. Data collection for the project will be launched in early November, and the plan is to have results available for use by other universities by mid-February, according to Wentz.


  2. Just doing nothing gets you nothing

    August 24, 2016 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Dawn Marie Bailey

    When just beginning something-be it a journey for improvement or an initiative to ensure you are prepared and fortified for unavoidable challenges-it’s best to start small, just one step at a time.

    At the upcoming Baldrige regional conference in Chicago, Melanie Taylor, deputy superintendent, curriculum and instruction, at Baldrige Award recipient Iredell-Statesville Schools, will outline how to start small on a Baldrige journey—and why such a journey is so important for educators, as well as for others.

    To help an organization get started, Taylor said she plans to touch on key areas; for example,

    • the Organizational Profile
    • Are We Making Progress?
    • Baldrige Excellence Builder

    “I’m going to talk about starting small,” said Taylor. “You’ve got to get started in order to improve. Just doing nothing gets you nothing. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

    Through a series of questions, I asked Taylor to give me some background on her topic “How to Get Started on Your Baldrige Journey?” and what learnings she intended to share with the regional conference audience.

    What do you feel is the value of a Baldrige journey?

    Baldrige provides some established, proven criteria to help you. Start with a self-assessment to gain a better understanding of how well you’re communicating your goals, mission, vision, and values internally and externally. Baldrige resources also provide considerations on developing relationships that give you an opportunity to network and benchmark with other organizations and learn best practices. It’s an opportunity to grow and improve what you’re already doing. You may think you’re doing well, but how does that compare to others?

    What are your top tips for using Baldrige resources to support education?

    The Baldrige framework helps with identification and alignment of key processes to get everyone in your organization moving in the same direction and focused on the things that matter. By getting everyone around the table up front, you’re able to be more effective. We’ve also been able to become more efficient, especially on the operations side. This is especially important in light of the cuts that many states (at least North Carolina) have seen in recent years.

    The Baldrige framework also has considerations for measurement and comparisons. By really looking at your data and that of other similar districts that may be outperforming you with similar subgroups or in certain areas, you’re able to identify exemplars to learn best practices.

    It’s helpful to get someone in your organization trained on the Baldrige framework relatively early on. You’ll need some experts on board to help with clarification and to help move the processes along.

    It’s also important for leadership to be bought in and to model behaviors for staff. At Iredell-Statesville Schools, senior leadership was great at modeling expectations. We trained/implemented Baldrige thinking all the way down to the kid/classroom level, so it was pervasive at all levels of the organization. If kindergartners can understand and utilize Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA; continuous improvement), anyone can do it.

    What else might participants learn at your conference session?

    My focus will really be on processes for schools to take home. While I’m always happy to share our district experiences and my personal reflections, my focus will be on ways to get started on your journey and the importance of doing something.


  3. School boards and the Baldrige Framework = Excellent results

    April 16, 2016 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    The 2013 Baldrige Award-winning Pewaukee School District of Wisconsin began using the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence (part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework) at the prompting of a school board member, according to its superintendent, JoAnn Sternke. Larry Dux—then clerk of the Pewaukee School District Board of Education—was familiar with the Baldrige framework’s value to the business sector from his work. Dux believed his school district could benefit just as for-profit organizations had from adopting a systems approach to improving its performance, among other Baldrige core concepts.

    He was right. As Sternke’s high-performing school system has since demonstrated, the Baldrige Education Criteria can be used as a self-assessment tool by a school and, better yet, the entire school system to improve performance in all key areas. Those include leadership and governance systems; strategic planning and development; approaches to engaging and supporting students, stakeholders, and employees; knowledge and data management as well as performance measurement; operations; and results.

    Sternke and Liz Menzer—a longtime school board member and a leader in both Wisconsin’s Baldrige-based program and the nationwide network of local programs known as the Alliance for Performance Excellence—presented earlier this week on the Baldrige framework’s benefits to school boards at the 2016 annual meeting of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). I recently asked them to share some key information about their presentation for readers of the Baldrige blog.

    As background, Sternke noted that NSBA has identified the following as core skill areas that effective boards of education need to ensure that all students achieve at high levels: vision, accountability, policy, community leadership, and relationships.

    “These five dovetail beautifully with the Baldrige framework,” said Sternke. “In fact, the Baldrige framework supports and makes these concepts become actionable. This is the focus of our presentation at the National School Board Association conference (held in Boston, April 9–11).”

    When asked why school boards can find the Baldrige framework valuable, Menzer responded, “Ensuring that public education will meet emerging challenges requires a clear vision for the work and operations of school boards in the future. The Baldrige framework can help boards shape proactive strategies that make school board members more relevant, credible, and effective leaders of public education.”

    Sternke and Menzer each shared examples of the value they described, based on their respective experiences in school communities in Wisconsin.

    “Using the Baldrige framework has helped our organization better utilize people, plan, and use processes to achieve [desired] results,” said Sternke. “Our board and our senior leaders clearly know their roles and their key work as we pursue our mission to open the door to each child’s future.”

    For her part, Menzer said, “Using the framework has made us more data-driven, and this makes us better decision makers. It also makes us better ambassadors for public education because we can be less anecdotal and more factual about the good things going on in our public schools.”

    Sternke and Menzer also provided their answers for three questions school boards are likely to ask about adopting the Baldrige framework, as follows:

    1. Does adopting the Baldrige framework add more work for school boards?

    Menzer: “No, it just organizes your work and provides focus.”

    2. How do you get started?

    Sternke: “The state-level, Baldrige-based programs of the Alliance (see link above) throughout the country can be great resources for educational leaders. In fact, Pewaukee School District got started with the support of the Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence, which is headed by Liz Menzer.”

    3. What’s the board’s role and the superintendent’s role in pursuing school/district improvement?

    Sternke and Menzer: “One of the nice things about using Key Work of School Boards along with the Baldrige Excellence Framework is that these resources provide clear direction about governance versus operations. The first clearly presents differing roles that superintendents and school board members hold in education organizations that function optimally. These roles are supported by the Baldrige framework, which aligns the focus for all and also identifies the line between leadership (the work of senior leaders) and governance (the work of the board).”