For full definitions refer to Building an Organizational Learning System (Principal's Handbook).

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Action Plans: refer to outlines of certain steps that are designed meet goals and objectives. A consistent format and expectations for all action planning in the school can be designed at the school level and should include the following components or combination of components:

  1. Goal and objective that the action plan is addressing
  2. Timeline of the actions
  3. Person(s) Responsible for completing actions
  4. Resources Needed to Complete the Task
  5. Examples of Action Plans in Use
  6. Log of Who has done What, When
  7. Results of the Action Plan(s)

Alignment: is the idea of everyone working toward the same goal.   It is important that all participants understand the action plan(s) and goal(s) for alignment to occur.

Baldrige: a step by step process for making changes to the way students, teachers administrators and the school accomplish goals. (See What is Baldrige)

Benchmark: are goals based on best practices from anywhere that a school can use to improve its performance.

Concerns-based Adoption Model (CBAM): as your school begins to adopt Baldrige students and teachers may have questions.  The CBAM is a model that helps to address those questions.

Formative Assessment: frequent evaluation during course, programs, or learning experiences that gives teachers an idea of what students are learning, including an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.

Goals: Goals are ends that guide actions. Sometimes called targets and include a score or grade of how well those targets are met.   The term "stretch goals" refers to desired major improvements, usually in areas most critical to the school's success.

Integration:  is when plans, processes, information, resource decisions, action, results, and analysis all support the organization-wide goals. Effective integration goes beyond alignment and it is when there is evidence that the  people and plans work together achieving an organization's goals.

Linkages Chart: helps organize the requirements of each Baldrige Category and reinforces the relationships among Categories.

Leadership System: describes how important decisions are made, communicated, and carried out. It includes who makes the decisions; selection of leaders, administrators, department heads, staff leaders as well as parents and students when possible.

Mission: the overall function of an organization. The mission answers the question, "What is this school attempting to accomplish?"

Performance Excellence: the result of a pragmatic system of continual improvement driven by student needs, expectations, and requirements. (J. Shipley)

PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act): a four-step improvement cycle for organizing and managing change and continuous improvement. The cycle is used for small improvements. Benchmarking is used when radical changes are called for (Conyers and Ewy, p. 62). This cycle was developed by Dr. Walter Shewhart in the 1920s and put into business practice in Japan and the United States by W. Edwards Deming.

The four steps are defined, as follows:

  • In the Plan phase, the specific change or problem is defined and a plan is designed to address the problem or desired change.
  • In the Do phase, the improvements to be made are put in place through the development of action plans.
  • In the Study phase, data is monitored and analyzed to see if the improvement is producing the desired change.
  • In the Act phase, a decision is made as to whether the results have created the desired change or if more improvement is needed, in which case, the cycle starts all over again.

Process: actions or tasks linked together with the purpose of supporting the school’s goals. Generally, processes involve people, strategies, and resources in a series of steps and actions.

Quality tools are visual organizers that help students with planning, decision-making, and problem solving in many situations: on the job, at school, during meetings, in the classroom, and at home.

Results: outcomes of schools’ attempts at meeting the requirements of the Baldrige Criteria. Results are measured in the areas of student achievement, student, staff, and stakeholder satisfaction/dissatisfaction, staff development, leadership system, and process management.

Root-cause Analysis: an examination of specific questions or issues to determine the root-cause. This process enables schools to solve the cause of problems rather than solving the symptoms of a problem.

Stakeholders: all groups that are affected by the school's actions and success (e.g., parents, staff, community, other schools). Although students are commonly thought of as stakeholders, for purposes of emphasis and clarity, the Baldrige Criteria refer to students and stakeholders separately.

Strategic Objectives: a school's response to address priority areas for improvement. They set a school's longer-term directions and guide action planning.

Summative Assessment: analysis of student learning by comparing baseline with end-of-year levels of achievement to determine gains and evaluate connections between teaching and learning. Summative assessments are conducted at the conclusion of a unit, course or program.

System: a set of well-defined, well-designed, well-deployed processes that work together for meeting the school’s performance requirements.

Systematic: processes that are repeatable and predictable. Approaches are systematic if they build in the opportunity for evaluation, improvement, and sharing.

Systemic: the idea that people and the process of improvement are connected and related. Continuous improvement requires a balance of both systematic actions and systemic thinking.

Trends: information that shows the direction and rate of change for schools' results. They provide a time sequence of organizational performance.  Usually trends are presented as a graph.
Value: the perceived worth or benefit of a program, service, or processes to determine the benefits of various options relative to their costs. Schools need to understand what different student and stakeholder groups value and then deliver that value to each group.

Value Creation: a program, service, or process that produces benefit for students and stakeholders and for the school.

Values (Core Values/Best Practices): the guiding principles and behaviors that embody how the school and its staff are expected to operate. They guide decision making of all staff, helping the school to accomplish its mission and attain its vision in an appropriate manner.

Vertical Articulation: a process that supports student achievement as students progress through grade levels.

Vertical Team: a group of teachers and administrators from different grade levels or schools that works together to analyze students' needs and expectations and to create programs that help those students be successful.

Vision: the desired future state of the school. It describes where the organization is headed, what it intends to be, and how it wishes to be seen in the future.