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Six Sigma in Public Schools

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  • #30876

    Schuette
    Participant

    The new Dept of Education “leave no child behind” quality initiative will place high pressure on elementary and secondary schools to measure, improve and perform far beyond present levels. This recipe has all the makings of six sigma projects throughout the educational system and could provide an avenue for “belts” to volunteer their services to local schools. Question is “Has anyone applied Six Sigma to school systems? If so, what is the translation of the customer driven needs for Quality, Service and Cost? What are your ideas regarding how we might help our local schools? 

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    #81021

    tottow
    Member

    Don’t know any examples of 6 sigma being used in schools, but I am intrigued by the idea.  I do remember seeing somewhere recently about a school system in New York (state) using the Malcolm Baldridge award criteria.  Since it deals with quality (?), there might be some similarities to build off of?  

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    #81039

    Marc Richardson
    Participant

    Jim,
    Do yourself and those for whom you voluteer a favor and visit this website. It contains a real-life, worked-out example of Deming’s principles in the field of education. As the website creator, Ivan Webb says, Six Sigma is about working on things while his approach is working with people, an important distinction to make when dealing with children. If you are unfamiliar with the thought of W. Edwards Deming, I would suggest you read “Out of the Crisis” by way of preparation.
    http://www.users.bigpond.com/ivan.webb/quality/schools/site_index.htm
    Marc Richarsdson
    Sr. Q.A. Eng.

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    #81041

    Brian Pauquette
    Participant

    I came across this website from the ASQ site some time ago.  I don’t know that it applies to Six Sigma specifically (I’ve only skimmed it), but it may have some interesting tie-ins.  http://www.koalatykid.org/

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    #81163

    Bill Springer
    Participant

    As a nine year member of the local board of education and six years as president of the board, I know something about public education. The solutions don’t required Six Sigma. They required saying no to powerful interest groups: the teachers’ unions, the education departments in universities, one issue interest groups, etc. My glib response: If you think Six Sigma is what is needed to improve public education you don’t know much about either Six Sigma or public education. Good Luck.

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    #81166

    Schuette
    Participant

    Thank you for the advice. You have identified a number of pressures which must have over complicated your tenure on the board of education. In trading qualifications, I too have spent time on school committees, have negotiated teacher contracts and even began my career as a professional educator. I recognize the various pressure groups with their vested interests, but I also know enough about improvement management to realize that many of the school systems are caught in a cya stagnation which could be turned around, perhaps with some of the six sigma techniques we use. I appreciate your advice and characterizations, but my initial question was directed at belts who may be able to see a way that we could volunteer and use some of our tools to improve the schools.  
     
     

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    #82238

    walden
    Participant

    The crossover of six sigma and a variety of other management tools into education has been the focus of The American Productivity and Quality Center, APQC, since 1996. We have embedded these tools as well as many Baldrige-derived practices into our training and consulting. I can point you to many studies, assessments and evaluations we have done with school systems using these tools. Check out http://www.apqc.org/education for more info.

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    #113339

    Paul Adams
    Participant

    This article mentions a case study they used in Radio Broadcasting. Does anyone know what broadcasting company this was?Does anyone know of radio stations that have used the Six Sigma approach to improvement? Thanks,
    Paul

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    #123243

    Isaac
    Participant

    The only way I could see Six Sigma working in public education is if businesses were to partner up with schools in such a way that the profit motive for schools were based on profit-results from classes instead of nebulous tests. Unfortunately, there is still no link between schools and businesses, because our society sees children as unable to operate in an adult world. If we see our “children” as members of our business community we could create a school system that constantly implements procedures designed to increase the profitability of the teachers and students. If a student can find a way to apply his or her knowledge instantly in such a way that it earns him or her an instant product or profit, students will be much more willing to engage themselves in the educational process. Standardized tests do not work, and leave most students feeling neglected and invaluable to their “organization”. If student’s creations and work bring in profit, the student will want to be part of the organization.

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    #131700

    Edwards
    Participant

    Six Sigma, as I understand it from just browsing this site, is nearly totally inapplicable to education. In the most gross terms, Six Sigma has to do with defects per unit of production yet try as we might, education is an entirely custom process. In addition, the variables (within the classroom) are far, far to extensive to standardize in any way. Each district, school, class, student and teacher represent unique variables and problems that cannot be replicated from one situation to another with any reliabliity.In terms of process, what would one term a “defect” in terms of student product? What constitutes knowledge? Are facts knowledge, or is the ability to engage in a conemplative thinking process constitute knowledge?

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    #131703

    BTDT
    Participant

    David:I applied these principles while teaching financial math and statistics. My dropout/fail rate decreased from the departmental average of 35-40% to less than 5%. My average attendence was much higher than other sections and I managed and evaluated about 120 objectives for 200 learners.I could easily identify the few vital factors under my control that influenced student success.Cheers, BTDT

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    #131775

    Darth’s Grandmother
    Participant

    It is  difficult  to  apply  tho  whole  concept.But you may try to implement the  following  2  principles  of SS:
    *DMAIC:Define-Measure-Anayze-Improve-Control (Evaluate?)
    **Y=F(X) ,Where Y is  output and X is  input  

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    #141192

    Schuette
    Participant

    Just looking for updates after 4 years of trying. At this point I do not believe that anything including education will work in public education. I have now tried very low key talking with 3 school boards. As soon as there is the slightest hint of problem definition, all turn into defensive screamers who place their hands over their ears yelling “we can’t hear you” This is crazy but it is no wonder that the US public education system is ranked 20th  in the world. I may have just bumped into board members who all have kids in the respective schools and look like their only objective is to get the best for their kids. I am pretty successful in other areas even with “life and death surgeons” who develop good solutions to preventing operating on the wrong organs, but these schools have stopped me cold. Has anyone else tried any improvement methods with public schools and lived to tell about it?

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    #143694

    Lisa Moretti
    Participant

    Jim,
    Don’t give up yet – I am extremely interested in this topic!!!
    My company, Volt Services Group, was one of the first
    leading staffing services to implement the Six Sigma
    Methodology into our daily work lives and today we have
    many different initiatives active and it truly has changed
    our company culture and the way we facilitate business. I
    have been with Volt for 11+ years and have decided to
    receive my Graduate degree (MAT in Physical Education)
    and am attending Montclair State University in New
    Jersey. As soon as I started my studies in the Spring of
    ’06, I said to myself….boy, our Public School System in the
    US surely could use the Six Sigma Methodology to
    improve it. There’s no telling at what level we are at now –
    scary I’m sure. Understandably so, I think that the school boards,
    administrators, and teachers are so fearful of another
    NCLB situation that anything with statistics and numbers
    is really scary. It could also mean BIG reform to the
    schools, but as you well know… there is no talk of even
    solutions until the very end of the process. But, you start
    with something small to build confidence in the process
    and work your way up. We have to find that one leader who is willing to take a
    chance. I saw on this site that Colorado is incorporating it
    in one of their districts, so maybe you can team up and
    contact one of those advocates. I still have about 2.5
    years until I’m finished, but I’d love to be involved with any
    discussions. So, count me in!! I’m a great contributor.
    Lisa

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    #143703

    Lisa Moretti
    Participant

    I posted this last night, but I’m not sure where it went.  I am not proposing that we treat children as statistics or defects – not at all.  What I am saying is that Six Sigma Methodology can be used in other sectors of the school system on a single school and district level first, then expand outwards. Initiatives will make processes within the school system more efficient, saving time and money.  These savings will be returned to the students, educators, parents, and the community to really make a difference in our society.  Education reform needs something new- I haven’t heard about or seen anything else that’s making such a huge impact as I believe Six Sigma can make.  Charter schools are a completely different educational reform, to which I am a proponent, but that doesn’t go to the core of the processes. That’s how I see it at least.  Again, I think that everyone is so afrad of statistics and measurement as a result of NCLB, so that is another reason it’s not being touched.  I’m interested to read more about Colorado and track their success. 

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    #143709

    Travis
    Member

    This is now a great problem in many states.  I know that in Ga many of the schools are being told that they have to advance students to the next level wether or not they understand the concepts.  Six Sigma will work on the process of teaching but the problem is that the process is so old that it needs to be revamped completely.  I mean blow it up and start over.  I have seen and heard on many occasions that the school system is so far behind that we as a country are now considered third world in our education system.  I know that you can help your school by starting with the board and take a look at those things that are needed to pass to the next level.  I know that in many states they teach to the CRCT test or the national placement test.  if you have questions or would like more info I am sure that I could help

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    #149794

    Jeff
    Participant

    Travis or anyone with interest in six sigma in public schools:
    I believe most of the input here has been relative to instructional application of six sigma in public schools. From what I know it was not directed at instructional improvement, although I do think some of the principals can be applied here. Having been a teacher (in Georgia) myself and also having spend many years with manaufactures of school equipment, supplies and technology providers of administrative and instructional applications working with school systems, I believe the principals of six sigma apply to many of the support processes in education.
    Where I see it can apply:
    1. Management and procurement procedures in school systems.
    2. Operational procedures in food service, bus transportation, building management and facilty maintanence.
    3. Budgeting and planning.
    4. Student and information management through student information systems. This includes grade reporting, discipline reporting, and management and tracking of student assignements.
    5. Process improvement may apply in school improvement projects in coordination with instructional design and procedures for measurement of objectives. The NCLB issue aside, high stakes testing such as the CRCT in Georgia is not the what six sigma will address, but rather a process improvement toward measurement of learning through an examination of  where the learning process can improve and the implementation of steps to streamline and make it more efficient.
    6. Management of student and teacher attendance.
     
    I am now beginning a process of marketing six sigma into school districts and and open to views on the subject weither they are in agreement or not with what I outlined above. I want your views so I can offer valid reasons school systems would use six sigma. If you have any specific examples from districts please let me know.
    Thanks,
     
    Jeff
     
     

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    #149795

    systhinc
    Member

    Two of the previous posts have hit on something near and dear to my heart, something which works, something which is the alter ego of “six sigma”:  quality.  The Koality Kid organization (a relative of ASQ) started in upstate New York some twenty years ago as a reading comprehension addendum to the local curriculum.  Quality pros would go to schools, read, and question and interact with the kids. 
    It was based on the philosophy of W. Edwards Deming, someone you should all read, if you want to truly understand the fundamentals of quality and its relationship to business, industry, government, and education. 

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    #149803

    qualitycolorado
    Participant

    Synthinc,
    Great point about the ASQ Koalaty Kid program — for folks who are interested, here is the link:
    http://www.asq.org/edu/kkid/index.html
     
    Best regards,
    QualityColorado

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    #176154

    Out of Industry Teacher
    Participant

    This may be a mute point as this was written a number of years ago, but I think is still an important issue.  This person states that he knows the education process well, but does this person know anything about how the Six Sigma process works?  I am an educator who came out of industry where I worked on a number of Six Sigma teams and I know the concept well and since I’ve been in education for many years, also know how the education system works.  To say that you need to say “no” to teachers’ unions when it is the teachers who are in the classroom and feels the impact of decisions made by school boards, administrators, and county officials is showing something of what is indeed a problem with public education.  To me, anyone who has never stepped foot in a classroom with a class size of 30+, half of which may have special needs, does not really understand what education is about. In my current county, it is quite obvious that the biggest problem within the school system is not the educator in the classroom, but rather the waste and misappropriation of funds by those in charge and those in community public office.  This in effect has had an overall severe impact on the classroom and how a teacher can teach a class.  Large classroom sizes, inappropriate supplies and equipment for classrooms, and low salaries for teachers are still the largest issues and do not seem to be gaining any ground at getting eliminated.  Yet, for example, teachers are being told that there are no monies for sorely needed classroom equipment, supplies and books for the classroom or to hire new teachers to help reduce classroom size in a given year, but then seeing that there is money for things like a new football field when the old one still looks fine and still works.  In my previous employment in the Industrial setting, I have seen where the Six Sigma process works to improve upon the waste and misappropriated funding within an organization and put emphasis on what is important in the organization so as to improve upon the quality of the product of that organization.  Today, as we face a global society, there are real concerns about the quality of education of the U.S. student especially in comparison to the quality of education of the students in other countries.  We must start looking into the infrastructure of the entire system for solutions and not just inside the classrooms.  In my opinion, the Six Sigma process delves into the heart of the infrastructure of an organization, weeding out the insufficiencies and making improvements that have an overall positive impact on the entire structure.  And the right improvements is what is necessary in the U.S. education system so that the structure of the classroom setting can meet with the demands of a global technological society.  U.S. students will be facing a future of competition within a global job market and will lose unless things change.  Thus, I totally disagree with the statements made by this school board member and find them ignorant to the understanding of what today’s student is facing and what is really needed in the classroom.  The U.S. is falling behind more and more on quality education that measures low in comparison with the qualities of other countries and yet the burden of that is being placed solely on the classroom educator’s back.  However, since I’ve been in education as an educator coming out of the Industrial setting, it has been my view that there is nothing wrong with the quality of instruction given in the classroom, but more with the infrastructure of the entire education system as well as the lack of real contributions made by the outside community all of which binds the hands of the teacher in the classroom.  Six Sigma would identify those binding ropes and could be the key that helps us to really understand what necessary improvements really need to be made within public education system instead of assuming the blame lies totally within the classroom setting and the educator that presides within it.

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    #176155

    Severino
    Participant

    It’s the same as any other branch of the government.  Everyone (educators, administrators, contractors, etc.) is looking to ensure their piece of the pie is as big as possible.  Because there is no competition and removing the weeds from the garden is difficult the system spirals into ever increasing waste.  Since their is no incentive for management to change any SS effort would be extremely difficult to implement.  Next topic.

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