Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD


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

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Action Plans: refer to outlines of specific actions that are defined, designed and deployed to meet strategic goals/ objectives or other processes that require specific follow-through. 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. Actions/timeline
  3. Person(s) Responsible
  4. Resources Needed to Complete the Task
  5. Evidence of Implementation
  6. Monitoring: Date and by whom
  7. Results (indicators based on the identified evidence of implementation)

Alignment: consistency or congruency between and among the school's vision, mission, and expectations; formative and summative data analyses; processes; resource allocations; training plans; and strategic goals and objectives. Effective alignment requires a common understanding of the key goals and objectives, measures, and those key processes that will support attainment of the goals and objectives at all levels of the organization (county, school, classroom, & individual levels).

Baldrige: a systematic process for making systemic changes. (See What is Baldrige)

Benchmark: processes and results that represent best practices and performance for similar activities inside or outside the school. Benchmarking is the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help an organization improve its performance (APQC)

Concerns-based Adoption Model (CBAM): a model for identifying and assessing seven stages of concern individual experience when going through a change process. (See Appendix 45, ”Concerns-based Adoption Model”)

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

Goals: a future condition or performance level that one intends to attain. Goals can be both short term and longer term. Goals are ends that guide actions. Quantitative goals, frequently referred to as "targets," include a numerical point or range. Targets might be projections based on comparative and/or competitive date. The term "stretch goals" refers to desired major or breakthrough improvements, usually in areas most critical to the school's success.

Integration: the harmonization of plans, processes, information, resource decisions, action, results, and analysis to support key organization-wide goals. Effective integration goes beyond alignment and is achieved when there is evidence showing the interdependency and interrelationships of people and processes in achieving an organization's goals.

Linkages Chart: demonstrate visually the alignment and integration of the Baldrige Categories. It can be used by any organization as a tool for defining, designing, and deploying plans that include processes and systems to sustain each category. By using the "systems checks," the linkages chart helps organize the requirements of each Category and reinforces the interrelationships among Categories. (Note arrows on the linkages chart.)

Leadership System: how leadership is exercised, formally and informally, throughout the organization — the basis for and the way that key decisions are made, communicated, and carried out. It includes structures and mechanisms for decision making; selection and development of senior leaders, administrators, department heads, staff leaders as well as parents and students when possible; and reinforcement of values, directions, and performance expectations.

Mission: the overall function of an organization. The mission answers the question, "What is this school attempting to accomplish?" The mission might define students and stakeholders served; distinctive competencies; or technologies used.

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 incremental improvements as opposed to benchmarking 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. (Embedded in the PDSA cycle are quality tools to facilitate the process.)

The four steps are defined, as follows:
  • In the Plan phase, the specific change or problem is defined through root-cause analysis and a plan is designed to address the problem or desired change.

  • In the Do phase, the improvements to be made are deployed through the development of action plans. Frequent monitoring allows for rapid response to change the course, if needed.

  • In the Study phase, formative data measures are 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 for standardization or if more improvement is needed, in which case, the PDSA cycle starts all over again.

Process: value-added actions or tasks linked together with the purpose of supporting the school’s goals. Generally, processes involve people, strategies, and resources in a defined 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 when addressing 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: a "drilling-down" process to analyze the root-cause for a specific question or issue related to student achievement and a relevant set of data to facilitate data-driven decision-making. 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 resource allocation through action planning.

Summative Assessment: longitudinal 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 tend to be formal and comprehensive and 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 inter-relatedness and interdependency of processes and people within a system. Continuous improvement requires a balance of both systematic actions and systemic thinking.

Trends: numerical information that shows the direction and rate of change for schools' results. They provide a time sequence of organizational performance. A minimum of three data points generally is needed to begin to ascertain a trend.

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 reflect the desired culture of an organization. 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 articulation is a process designed to promote a pre-K–Grade 12 professional learning community to build instructional capacity and foster high expectations for staff and students.

Vertical Team: a group of educators from different grade levels or schools that works cooperatively to analyze students' needs and expectations and to develop and implement programs aimed at helping students to acquire those skills and strategies necessary for achieving success.

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 perceived in the future.

November 23, 2010 | Maintained by Web Services | Content Manager: Michael Perich