• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

An examination of quality management in support functions of elementary and secondary education using the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award's criteria for performance excellence

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Lela Marie Olson
Abstract:
Quality management is an approach to achieving and sustaining high quality products and services by focusing on the continuous improvement of processes throughout an organization in order to meet or exceed customer requirements (Flynn, Schroeder, & Sakakibara, 1994). Accountability measures in elementary and secondary education define and monitor quality in teaching and learning and perpetuate continuous improvement of the core processes of school districts. Similar mechanisms do not exist for support functions, which on average account for over 33% of district expenditures (Zhou, Honegger, & Gaviola, 2007). This study examined customer-focused continuous improvement efforts in five Minnesota public school districts by using survey research to gather perceptual data from 196 front-line workers in the following work groups: food service, operations and maintenance, human resources and business services, transportation, and administrative/other support. Survey items reflected the essential components of quality management as found in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award's Criteria for Performance Excellence . Data was used to examine participants' perceptions of quality management on the job in terms of leadership, data, planning, the workforce, work processes, stakeholders, and results. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine the relationship of these constructs in the support functions of elementary and secondary education as well as the applicability of the Baldrige model to this setting. Findings of the study were largely consistent with previous research using the Baldrige model in manufacturing, health care, and higher education settings. Key differences were also noted. The study makes an important contribution to the small body of literature on support service functions in elementary and secondary education and adds to the growing amount of research on quality management within organizations.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS…………………………………………………………………… i TABLE OF CONTENTS…………………………………………………………………….. iii LIST OF TABLES …………………………………………………………………………… vii LIST OF FIGURES …………………………………………………………………………..ix CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ...………………………………………………………1 QUALITY IN THE CONTEXT OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION …………………………………………………………………1 PROBLEM STATEMENT.…………………………………………………………... 4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY………………………………………………………... 4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS …………………………………………………………. 5 NEED FOR THE STUDY …………………………………………………………… 5 DEFINITIONS OF KEY TERMS …………………………………………………… 9 LIMITATIONS ………………………………………………………………………. 11 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW ……………………………………………….. 12 TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT ………………………………………………. 12 History of TQM …………………………………………………………….. 13 Research on TQM ………………………………………………………… 15 MALCOLM BALDRIGE NATIONAL QUALITY AWARD ……………………….. 18 Model and Criteria ………………………………………………………….19 Praise and Criticism ………………………………………………………. 29 Veins of MBNQA Research ………………………………………………. 30 QUALITY MANAGEMENT IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION’S SUPPORT FUNCTIONS …………….………………… 41 Strategic Planning in Support Functions ……………………………….. 41

iv

Staff Focus in Support Functions ……………………………………..…. 43 Stakeholder Focus in Support Functions ……………………………….. 48 Results in Support Functions …………………………………………….. 50 CHAPTER THREE: METHODS ………..…………………………………………………. 54 RESEARCH DESIGN ……………………………………………………………….54 Target Population and Sample ………………………………………….. 55 Variable Specifications …………………………………………………... 58 Instrumentation …………………………………………………………. 60 Institutional Review Board ……………………………………………….. 64 PILOT STUDY ……………………………………………………………………… 65 Data Collection ……………………………………………………………. 65 Sample Characteristics …………………………………………………… 65 Instrument Evaluation …………………………………………………….. 67 MAIN STUDY ………………………………………………………………………. 68 Data Collection …………………………………………………………… 68 Sample Characteristics ………………………………………………….. 70 HYPOTHESES AND DATA ANALYSIS …………………………………………. 75 CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS ………………………………………………………..……. 81 MEASUREMENT MODEL ASSESSMENT …………………………………...… 81 Leadership ……………………………………………………………….… 83 Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management …………….… 87 Strategic Planning …………………………………………………………. 89 Workforce Focus ……………………………………………..……………. 91 Process Management ……………………………………..……………… 94

v

Stakeholder Focus ………………………………………...……………… 96 Results ……………………………………………………………………… 99 STRUCTURAL MODEL ASSESSMENT ……………………………..…………106 HYPOTHESIS TESTING ………………………………………………..………. 110 CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, DISCUSSION, AND IMPLICATIONS ……….………. 116 SUMMARY ………………………………………………………….………………116 DISCUSSION ……………………………………………………..……..…………118 Leadership and Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management……………………………………………….…………...…120 Leadership and Strategic Planning ………………………….…….……121 Leadership and Workforce Focus ………………………………..……. 121 Leadership and Process Management …………………………………123 Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management and Stakeholder Focus …………………………….…………………….……123 Strategic Planning and Stakeholder Focus …………………….………123 Workforce Focus and Stakeholder Focus ……………………….……..124 Process Management and Stakeholder Focus ………………….….... 124 Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management and Results...125 Strategic Planning and Results ………………………………………… 125 Workforce Focus and Results ………………………………………….. 125 Process Management and Results …………………………………...…125 Leadership and Stakeholder Focus ……………………………………. 126 Leadership and Results ……………………………………………….… 126 IMPLICATIONS ……………………………………………………………...…….126 REFERENCES ………………………………………………………………………….…. 135

vi

APPENDIX A: Recruitment Letter (MN Quality Award Recipient) ……………………156 APPENDIX B: Survey Items: Wording, Construct, Dimension, and Source ……...... 157 APPENDIX C: Letter of Approval from Institutional Review Board ………………….. 165 APPENDIX D: Introductory Letter with Consent Statement……… ……………..…… 166 APPENDIX E: Open Ended Responses by Quality Management Construct ……..…168 APPENDIX F: Return Postcard Template for Main Study ……………………………. 176

vii

LIST OF TABLES Table 3.1. Characteristics of School Districts Recruited for Participation in the Study………………………………………………………………………………... 58 Table 3.2. Constructs and Dimensions in the Baldrige Model ………………………... 59 Table 3.3. Baldrige Constructs and Corresponding Study Variable Information ……. 60 Table 3.4. Role, Tenure, Employment Status, and Job Responsibilities of Pilot Study Participants ………………………………………………………..………………. 66 Table 3.5. Analysis of Scales Using Pilot Study Data ……………………………….…68 Table 3.6. Role, Tenure, Employment Status, and Job Responsibilities of Main Study Participants ……………………………………………………………….…72 Table 3.7. Gender, Age, and Level of Education of Main Study Participants ………..73 Table 3.8. Characteristics of Staff Development for Main Study Participants ……… 74 Table 4.1. Retained Items for Leadership ……………………………………………….86 Table 4.2. Model Comparison for Leadership …………………………………………..87 Table 4.3. Retained Items for Data ……………………………………………………….88 Table 4.4. Model Comparisons for Data …………………………………………………89 Table 4.5. Retained Items for Planning ………………………………………………….91 Table 4.6. Model Comparisons for Planning …………………………………………… 91 Table 4.7. Retained Items for Staff Focus ……………………………………………… 92 Table 4.8. Model Comparisons for Staff Focus ………………………………………… 94 Table 4.9. Retained Items for Work Processes ………………………………………… 96 Table 4.10. Model Comparisons for Work Processes …………………………………. 96 Table 4.11. Retained Items for Stakeholder Focus ……………………………………. 97 Table 4.12. Model Comparisons for Stakeholder Focus ……………………………… 97 Table 4.13. Retained Items for Results ………………………………………………… 101

viii

Table 4.14. Model Comparisons for Results ………………………………………...… 101 Table 4.15. Pattern Matrix for Retained Items Measuring Nine Latent Constructs …103 Table 4.16. Correlation Coefficients of Indicators …………………………...………… 104 Table 4.17. Correlation Coefficients between Constructs …………………………….. 106 Table 4.18. Fit Statistics for Initial Baldrige Structural Model ………………………… 108 Table 5.1. Comparison of Findings between Present and Previous Baldrige Model Studies …………………………………………………………………………….. 122

ix

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2.1. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award model, 1992-1996 ………….… 33 Figure 4.1. Scree plots from exploratory factor analysis ………………………………. 84 Figure 4.2. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Leadership ………………………………………………………………………….. 86 Figure 4.3. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Data...88 Figure 4.4. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Planning ……………………………………………………………………………..90 Figure 4.5. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Staff Focus ………………………………………………………………………….93 Figure 4.6. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Work Processes ……………………………………………………………………95 Figure 4.7. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Stakeholder Focus …………………………………………………………………98 Figure 4.8. Standardized factor loadings and squared multiple correlations for Results ………………………………………………………………………………100 Figure 4.9. Standardized regression coefficients for initial model and squared multiple correlations for its endogenous variables ……………………………109

1

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Quality in the Context of Elementary and Secondary Education Public elementary and secondary education is a sizable enterprise in the United States. Serving 48.8 million students, its annual expenditures exceed $424 billion (Zhou, Honegger, & Gaviola, 2007). It is a service that is called on to fill purposes established by stakeholders- including students, parents, community members, institutions of higher learning, and employers- with differing expectations and priorities (Cuban, 1990; Rothstein, 2000). As such, “education remains a top public concern” (Dolph, 2006, p. 30). Quality implies fitness of use (Juran, 1995) or the ability of a product or service to meet or exceed customer expectations (Reeves & Bednar, 1994). In the United States, policymakers have played a significant role in shaping the quality of public education. For example, education policy in the 1960s focused on issues of access and equity which continued to be emphasized until the early 1990s (Bellamy, 1970; Ravitch & Vinovskis, 1993). Educational inputs, including per pupil expenditures, class size, teacher characteristics, student characteristics, and family characteristics (Ehrenberg & Brewer, 1994; Grissmer, 1998; Hadderman, 1998; Hanushek, 1986; Loeb, 2001; Monk, 1994) served as indicators of the quality of public education during much of this time (Hunter, 2002). Student learning, the primary outcome of the education process, is another important measure of quality. Learning among elementary and secondary students is monitored at the national level through the achievement test known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Trend data suggests that achievement growth among students has stagnated despite the fact that “real spending per student more

2

than tripled between 1960 and 1995” (Hanushek & Raymond, 2001, p. 367). This pattern coupled with a widening achievement gap between white and minority students helped policymakers turn their focus on educational inputs as measures of quality to a focus on outcomes (Hanushek & Raymond, 2001). "The change to public concern and attention to student outcomes is a major improvement in the area of educational policy" (Hanushek & Raymond, 2001, p. 365) and is reflected in recent legislation, like Goals 2000 and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). These pieces of legislation led to the development of state-level accountability systems (Hanushek & Raymond, 2001; Hanushek & Raymond, 2005). Accountability systems establish content standards (that identify what students should know and be able to do in different subject areas), goals for performance, performance measures, and consequences for varying levels of performance (Hanushek & Raymond, 2001). "The landmark NCLB codified a developing policy view that standards, testing, and accountability were the path to improve performance" (Hanushek & Raymond, 2005, p. 297). Under NCLB, instructional staff must meet qualifications based on their level of education or training. Schools must demonstrate that all students are progressing toward proficiency in core subjects as measured by scores on statewide achievement tests. Outcome data, including test scores and graduation rates, is disaggregated and reported publicly. Schools face consequences ranging from being put on a watch list to being reconstituted for failing to make annual yearly progress toward goals (Ohnemus, 2002). Management theory and literature on quality emphasize that an organization’s performance is dependent on aligning efforts throughout its entire system. In elementary and secondary education, the impact of policy on defining quality and shaping continuous improvement efforts has not systematically extended beyond the

3

core work of school districts. At the same time, school districts are receiving pressure from stakeholders to account for the use of all of their funds (Griscom, 1993), including those dedicated to support services. Operations and maintenance, food service, student transportation, purchasing and warehousing, human resources, finance and accounting, technology, and other departments provide critical services to students, district employees, community members, and other stakeholders. Nationally, support service personnel number 1.8 million (in full-time equivalent units), making up 30.1% of school district employees (Zhou et al., 2007). While their roles are diverse and necessary to the smooth operation of school systems, concerns regarding the amount of taxpayer dollars spent to support non-instructional areas are growing (Traaen, 1998). An initiative called the “65% solution: is one example of the growing public scrutiny of non-instructional programs and services in education. Proponents of the initiative favor the passage of legislation in all 50 states that ensures 65% or more of a district’s budget is spend on direct classroom instruction (Fermanich, 2006). Supporters argue that such laws “will force districts to make more efficient use of their resources” (Fermanich, 2006, p. 29) in order to “spend more on students, not bureaucracy” (Glasser, 2006, p. 34). “They also see it as a way to increase instructional spending without raising taxes or increasing overall spending” (Fermanich, 2006, p. 29). Opponents argue that the threshold is arbitrary and that there is no research demonstrating that this level of instructional spending yields higher test scores (Fermanich, 2006). In an effort to decrease costs in support functions and tighten their focus on student learning, some districts have turned to privatization (General Accounting Office [GAO], 1996; Stevenson, 2001). Privatization occurs when a “school district contracts

4

for a necessary and on-going service by way of annual or multi-year contracts with a private for-profit agency” (Stevenson & Wood, 1997, p. 15). A 1996 survey randomly sampled 1,853 members of the Association of School Business Officials International to learn more about privatization practices; 676 respondents made up the U.S. sample (Stevenson & Wood, 1997). Generally, school business officials in the U.S. were not supportive of privatizing services although 50% stated their districts would likely increase the practice in the next five years (Stevenson & Wood, 1997). Half believed that contract services reduced or controlled costs while only 25% felt they improved service quality (Stevenson & Wood, 1997). Respondents in rural areas felt that privatization was not very likely since the potential for profit would be small for companies given their district’s size. Privatization can also have negative effects on the district, its employees, and the community (GAO, 1996; Stevenson & Wood, 1997). Problem Statement Accountability measures in elementary and secondary education define and monitor quality in teaching and learning and perpetuate continuous improvement of the core processes of school districts. Similar mechanisms do not exist for support functions, which on average account for over 33% of district expenditures (Zhou et al., 2007). Quality management is an approach to achieving and sustaining high quality products and/or services by focusing on the continuous improvement of processes throughout all levels and functions of an organization in order to meet or exceed customer requirements (Flynn, Schroeder, & Sakakibara, 1994). Elementary and secondary education could benefit from a model that guides continuous improvement leading to enhanced outcomes for both core and support functions. Purpose of the Study

5

The purpose of the study is three-fold: (1) to describe the current state of quality management in support functions of public elementary and secondary education based on the perceptions of front-line workers, (2) to examine the strength and direction of the relationships among quality management constructs in the support functions of elementary and secondary education, and (3) to determine the extent to which the nature of the relationships between areas of quality management, as proposed by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) program, exist within support functions in elementary and secondary education. Research Questions 1. How do support personnel in public elementary and secondary education settings perceive quality management on the job in terms of leadership, data, planning, the workforce, work processes, stakeholders, and results? 2. How do quality management constructs relate to one another in the support functions of public elementary and secondary education? 3. Is the quality management model proposed by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award program applicable for use within support functions in public elementary and secondary education? Need for the Study There is a need to study quality management in the support functions of K-12 education for three reasons. First, the availability of sufficient financial resources is a recurring issue in the field. Funds come from federal (9.2%), state (46.8%), and local (44%) sources (Zhou et al., 2007). Throughout the country, the frequency of districts approaching taxpayers to support learning or facility related initiatives beyond what they already contribute to their state’s general education aid formula has increased sharply (Dolph, 2006). “State funding formulas that limit inflationary growth in revenue,

6

or mandates that require additional resources, and changes in tax laws all contribute to this growing phenomenon” (Dolph, 2006, p. 30). “In the average school district approximately 70% of levy voters are not parents” (Dolph, 2006, p. 31). This statistic, coupled with the fact that there will be higher percentages of taxpayers on fixed- incomes as the baby boomers age, suggests that districts will find it increasingly difficult to secure additional education dollars from state and local taxpayers. Districts are also concerned about the rising costs of maintaining a workforce. “According to Standard & Poor’s benefits and pension analysis: in 2003, in 33 states, the benefit payments by school districts consumed between 15% and 20% of the total budget” (Durante & Willis, 2005, p. 21). Cook (2004) noted a Kaiser Family foundation study, released in 2003, that found out-of-pocket health care costs for employees rose 48% from 1999 to 2002. Even when health insurance increases can be predicted in the short-term, some collective bargaining agreements prevent school districts from increasing employee responsibility for health care for several years at a time (Cook, 2004) which adds to the financial stress from rising costs. In terms of pensions, private sector companies have been shifting to plans where the employee and company contribution is defined (Durante & Willis, 2005). This helps provide the company with “financial stability since the payments are known in advance and do not change substantially from year to year” (Durante & Willis, 2005, p. 21). In contrast, “the overwhelming majority of education pension plans are ‘defined benefit plans’ that guarantee employees a pre-set benefit upon retirement” (Durante & Willis, 2005, p. 21). While states and school districts are trying to move toward defined contribution plans for new school employees, the cost savings won’t be evident for many years to come (Durante & Willis, 2005).

7

Constraints on access to and use of funds coupled with rising costs associated with employee benefits and pensions demonstrate the concern for the availability of financial resources in elementary and secondary education. Quality management has been shown to increase the efficiency and profitability of organizations in a variety of sectors (Hendricks & Singhal, 2001; Kaynak, 2003; Milakovich, 1990; Reed, Lemak, & Mero, 2000; Samson & Terziovski, 1999). By utilizing quality management throughout the system, in both instructional and support functions, districts will be better-equipped to operate and improve with existing levels of resources. Second, this study is important because support service functions in elementary and secondary education are facing new and substantial challenges that may not be met successfully without understanding and responding to stakeholder needs, both of which are primary goals of quality management. Examples from food service and operations and maintenance illustrate this point. The growing rate of obesity among Americans, including children, has resulted in mandates for district wellness policies and a more careful monitoring of the nutritional content of school meals, both of which will require increased training and involvement for cafeteria workers and managers (Frombach, 2005). “Successful programs will have to serve food that is more nutritious, more attractive and tasty to students than the alternatives, and such programs will need to educate children about healthful eating habits” (O’Looney & D’Hoore, 1996, p. 44). As the student population becomes more diverse, menus will need to reflect changing food preferences in order to maintain or increase participation rates in meal programs (White, Sneed, & Martin, 1992). In terms of facilities, school districts are facing and impending crisis as “thirty percent of the country’s schools require extensive repairs, whereas another 40% need replacement of at least major components” (Geiger, 2002, p. 43). Facility maintenance

8

and construction projects are often pushed to the side as capital improvement funds get reallocated to the operating fund in order to address other district needs (Durante & Willis, 2005; Geiger, 2002). Sielke (2002) reported that school infrastructure funding more than doubled between the 1993-1994 and 1998-1999 school years and that most funding for school infrastructure projects does not come from the states but instead relies on voter-approved bond issues at the local level. A U.S. General Accounting Office (2000) report stated that for fiscal year 1998, only 19 states had data on bond issues. These data showed that within those 19 states, 455 bond referenda were held. Only 54% passed and represented $9.052 billion, which was approximately 54% of the amount requested. (Sielke, 2002, p. 26)

This demonstrates that funding school infrastructure projects through bond issues can be problematic for districts. Even a successful bond issue does not mean that needs are being met. Most states have debt limits which means that a school district can bond only for a certain percentage of its taxable property base. A school district with a small tax base will be severely limited in the amount it can request through a bond issue. Another limitation in some states is that bond issues must be approved by a supermajority of either voters or eligible voters. (Sielke, 2002, p. 27)

Quality management practices can help support functions, like food service and operations and maintenance, to identify and understand stakeholder requirements and use this understanding to create goals and action plans for meeting them. Since, for example, local taxpayer support is critical to securing funds for school infrastructure projects, it is necessary for the district to know what citizens expect from school facilities in terms of size, physical condition, amenities, and shared use so that district plans convey solutions to identified needs and problems that voters can support. Third, the study has potential to make important contributions to the literature and to practice. There is a paucity of scholarly literature focusing on quality management in the support functions of elementary and secondary education. This study will add to the literature by collecting perceptual data describing the current state

9

of quality management practices in food service, operations and maintenance, transportation, business services and human resources, and administrative support. To this researcher’s knowledge, the study also represents the first attempt to empirically verify the Baldrige model as a whole in the K-12 setting. District recipients of the MBNQA have demonstrated that, when used throughout the organization, quality management leads to enhanced outcomes for students, employees, and the district as a whole (Chugach School District, 2001; Community Consolidated School District 15, 2003; Jenks Public Schools, 2005; Pearl River School District, 2001). Providing empirical data about the relationships between quality management constructs and the model’s overall fit using data from the support functions of elementary and secondary education will lend more credibility to practices that the K-12 education community associates heavily with the business community and not with themselves (Barney & Kirby, 2004; Kirby, 2004). Definitions of Key Terms Criteria for Performance Excellence (Criteria): A document that is published annually by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States that serves as the basis for determining recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and for giving feedback to Award applicants. The Criteria can also be used by organizations as a self-assessment of their quality management efforts. As the Award has expanded, different versions of the Criteria have been published and tailored to the business/non-profit sector, the health care sector, and the education sector.

District: “An agency at the local level whose primary responsibility is to operate public schools or to contract for public school services” (Zhou et al., 2007, p. 20). Also referred to as a local education agency (LEA)

Elementary and secondary education: “Programs providing instruction, or assisting in providing instruction, for students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, grades 1 through 12, and ungraded programs” (Zhou et al., 2007, p. 19). Also referred to as K-12 education.

Food services: “Activities that provide food to students and staff in a school or LEA [local education agency]. These services include preparing and serving regular and incidental meals or snacks in connection with school activities as well as delivery of food to schools” (Zhou et al., 2007, p. 20).

10

Instruction: “Activities related to the interaction between teachers and students. [Expenditures for this area] include salaries and benefits for teachers and teacher aides, textbooks, supplies and purchased services” (Zhou et al., 2007, p. 20).

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA): A national award in the United States recognizing organizations for achievement in quality and overall performance excellence.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): The federal entity mandated by Congress to collect, analyze, and report data related to education in the United States and other countries for use by individuals and entities including the U.S. Department of Education, Congress, policymakers, educators, and the general public (Dalton, Sable, & Hoffman, 2006).

Operations and maintenance: Activities related to the “operation of buildings, the care and upkeep of grounds and equipment, vehicle operations (other than student transportation) and maintenance, and security” (Zhou et al., 2007, p. 21).

Other support services: Activities that provide business, fiscal, and other support services to the district that are not tied directly to the superintendent, school board, school administrators, or students (Zhou et al., 2007). Services provided by accounting, food service, human resources, purchasing and warehousing, and technology departments are examples of “other support services.”

Performance: “Output results and their outcomes obtained from processes, programs, and services that permit evaluation and comparison relative to goals, standards, past results, and other organizations. Performance can be expressed in nonfinancial and financial terms” (National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST], 2007, p. 73).

Quality: The ability of a product or service to meet or exceed customer requirements (Reeves & Bednar, 1994).

Quality management: An approach to achieving and sustaining high quality products and/or services by focusing on the continuous improvement of processes throughout all levels and functions of an organization in order to meet or exceed customer requirements (Flynn, Schroeder, & Sakakibara, 1994).

Staff: A term referring to individuals working within school districts. See also Workforce.

Stakeholders: “Groups that are or might be affected by an organization’s actions and success. Examples of key stakeholders might include parents, parent organizations, the workforce, collaborators, governing boards, alumni, employers, other schools, regulatory bodies, funding entities, taxpayers, policy makers, suppliers, partners, and local and professional communities” (NIST, 2007, p. 75).

Support services: A general term for activities provided by a district that are not considered part of instruction. When reported as an expenditure function, support services are “divided into seven subfunctions: student support services, instructional

11

staff support, general administration, school administration, operations and maintenance, student transportation, and other support services” (Zhou et al., 2007, p. 22).

Total Quality Management (TQM): An approach to “continuous improvement that is focused on responding to customer needs, basing decisions on data, and allowing everyone to participate in the process" (Law, 1993, p. 24).

Workforce: “All people actively involved in accomplishing the work” (NIST, 2007, p. 77) of an organization. The workforce comprises all paid employees, including administrators, supervisors, and managers, as well as contract employees that work under the direction of organization members.

Limitations The proposed study has some limitations. First, the study’s population is limited to support service employees working for regular public elementary and secondary education districts in Minnesota. Second, participation was secured through convenience sampling techniques. Districts in the main study were invited to participate based on their familiarity with the study’s model or their known efforts in customer- focused continuous improvement. The quality management practices in the support functions of the participating districts may not be representative of practices found in the population of regular school districts in Minnesota which includes over three hundred districts without such known associations. Convenience sampling also influenced the size of the school district in which participants worked. Virtually all of the participants in the study worked in school districts that enrolled 1,000 or more students, yet half (51%) of the regular school districts in Minnesota serve fewer than 1,000 students (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2006b). The study’s findings may not be able to be generalized to districts of a much smaller or larger size. Third, the individual serves as the unit of analysis in this study; however the observations may not be truly independent among employees from the same school district. Finally, the study utilizes self-report data which can be prone to measurement error.

12

CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The literature will be reviewed in the following areas: Total Quality Management, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and quality management in support services in elementary and secondary education. The Total Quality Management literature will be broken down into discussion of its history and veins of research. Literature on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) will address the history and evolution of the award followed by a review of its seven components of quality management: (1) leadership, (2) measurement, analysis, and knowledge management, (3) strategic planning, (4) workforce management, (5) process management, (6) customer focus, and (7) results. The review of the MBNQA will also include sections on praise and criticism of the Award and veins of research relating to it. The literature on quality management in support functions of elementary and secondary education will be broken down into discussion of strategic planning, workforce issues, customer focus, and results. Total Quality Management Total Quality Management is an approach to “continuous improvement that is focused on responding to customer needs, basing decisions on data, and allowing everyone to participate in the process" (Law, 1993, p. 24). TQM is based on the following assumptions: (1) quality costs less than poor quality, (2) people care about the quality of their work and will seek to improve it if their ideas are listened to and they are given the information and training they need, (3) since organizations are systems, the problems they face involve multiple functions, and (4) while quality is everyone’s job, the ultimate responsibility lies with top management (Hackman & Wageman, 1995).

13

History of TQM The quality movement in the United States is based on the thoughts and practices advocated by a small group of individuals (Ehrlich, 2002; Hackman & Wageman, 1995), most notably W. Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran, Kaoru Ishikawa, and Philip R. Crosby. Deming, Juran, and Ishikawa are largely credited with guiding Japan to status an economic power following World War II which “drove the American electronics and automobile industries to their knees in the 1970s and 1980s” (Adams, Gray, Sprangers, & Henderson, 1999, p. 21). Deming, Ishikawa, and Juran share the view that an organization’s primary purpose is to stay in business, so that it can promote the stability of the community, generate products and services that are useful to customers, and provide a setting for the satisfaction and growth of organization members (Juran, 1969: 1-5; Ishikawa, 1985: 1; Deming, 1986: preface). (Hackman & Wageman, 1995, p. 310)

Full document contains 190 pages
Abstract: Quality management is an approach to achieving and sustaining high quality products and services by focusing on the continuous improvement of processes throughout an organization in order to meet or exceed customer requirements (Flynn, Schroeder, & Sakakibara, 1994). Accountability measures in elementary and secondary education define and monitor quality in teaching and learning and perpetuate continuous improvement of the core processes of school districts. Similar mechanisms do not exist for support functions, which on average account for over 33% of district expenditures (Zhou, Honegger, & Gaviola, 2007). This study examined customer-focused continuous improvement efforts in five Minnesota public school districts by using survey research to gather perceptual data from 196 front-line workers in the following work groups: food service, operations and maintenance, human resources and business services, transportation, and administrative/other support. Survey items reflected the essential components of quality management as found in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award's Criteria for Performance Excellence . Data was used to examine participants' perceptions of quality management on the job in terms of leadership, data, planning, the workforce, work processes, stakeholders, and results. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine the relationship of these constructs in the support functions of elementary and secondary education as well as the applicability of the Baldrige model to this setting. Findings of the study were largely consistent with previous research using the Baldrige model in manufacturing, health care, and higher education settings. Key differences were also noted. The study makes an important contribution to the small body of literature on support service functions in elementary and secondary education and adds to the growing amount of research on quality management within organizations.