Total quality management in education : the application of TQM in a Texas school district
Total Quality Management has been touted as an especially effective model for insuring continuous improvement in virtually all kinds of organizations. This study examines both the initial hopes and the present condition of TQM in a school to assess whether and how TQM fulfills its promise. The school district, which had been involved with TQM for at least five years, served approximately 13,000 students and consisted of 14 schools. The informants included a school superintendent, central office staff, principals, teachers, board members, support staff, and parents. Data indicated that TQM was imposed from the top, beginning with the superintendent and assistant superintendent of instructional services, followed by central office administration and campus administration, and finally extending to secondary teachers and elementary teachers. The processes used to install TQM included new administrator and teacher in-service training, Continuous Improvement classes, a District Leadership Academy, and an annual Continuous Improvement Conference. The TQM approach was mandatory at the administrator level; however, it was optional at the teacher level. Informants reported that better methods were needed to evaluate the efficacy of TQM and indicated that improvements in the organization could not be directly connected to the use of TQM. However, although informants reported that TQM was not evaluated specifically, they indicated that evaluation methods were in place for measuring student achievement. Stakeholder perception on the use of TQM indicated that employees within the district had knowledge of TQM, however, these same employees believed that individuals outside the district were not aware of what it was. Furthermore, the informants indicated that parents and community were highly satisfied with the school district. Informants reported the benefits and challenges involved with the installation of TQM. The benefits consisted of positive school culture, low employee turnover, systems approach, and ownership. Challenges were the amount of time needed, growth in the district, buy-in and resistance, and cost.