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Continuous improvement in the Leander ISD: A quantitative and qualitative assessment of culture and core values

Dissertation
Author: Joe E. Robinson
Abstract:
Many of today's schools are caught at the center of a perfect storm fueled by the pressures from a more demanding public, increased governmental accountability, warring political factions, shrinking resources, and new technologies and methodologies. Proponents of Quality Management/Continuous Improvement (QM/CI) have championed the philosophy for over two decades as a solution for addressing these kinds of pressures and systems problems. Unfortunately, QM/CI theory remains underdeveloped and subsequently often fails to align with or guide practice. Detert, Louis, and Schroeder propose that QM/CI theory is best explored through the organizational culture framework that borrows heavily from the work of Edgar Schein. According to Schein, organizational culture exists at the multiple levels of espoused values, material artifacts and creations, and underlying assumptions (deeply held organizational values that guide the norms of behavior). Detert and colleagues contend that there are "nine" core values that define the efficacy of QM/CI in school cultures. To assess the viability of these values, as lived out in the Leander ISD, Leander, Texas, the study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and was both confirmatory and exploratory in research intent. The Nine Core Values were examined through surveys, purposefully selected interviews, a review of the quality literature, on-site observations, and school documents, with the results triangulated to derive the findings and conclusions. Deeply and widely held values should be observable throughout the multiple levels of culture, expressed through espoused values, material artifacts and creations, and practices that reflect the norms of behavior. The findings and conclusions suggest that the first eight of the Nine Core Values are lived out in the Leander ISD as identifiable norms of behavior: shared vision, outside stakeholder involvement in educational decision-making, long term commitment, continuous improvement, employee involvement in improving the school, collaboration, fact-based decision-making, and focusing on processes rather than people. The ninth Core Value, "Quality can be improved within existing resources", could not be corroborated across the methodological triangulations. The study also unearthed two additional Core Values, one associated with the organizational learning dimension of QM/CI, and a second incorporating the elimination of fear and blame.

xi TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page ABSTRACT................................................................................................. iii DEDICATION.............................................................................................. v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS............................................................................ vi TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................................... xi LIST OF FIGURES...................................................................................... xvii LIST OF TABLES........................................................................................ xviii CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY........................................... 1

Introduction to the Problem................................................. 1 Statement of the Problem................................................... 7 Purpose of the Study.......................................................... 9 Research Questions........................................................... 9 Assumptions....................................................................... 10 Limitations........................................................................... 10 Definitions of Terms............................................................ 10 Significance of the Study.................................................... 13

II LITERATURE REVIEW............................................................ 15 Organization of the Literature Review................................. 15 Historical Review: Quality Ideals and Practices up to the Middle of the 20 th Century................................................ 17 The Emergence of Quality Management and the Impact on American Education: Societal Pressures, Formative Factors, and Contributory Events from the 1950s to the Present ...................................................... 36 The Forging of Quality Management: Contributions from Preeminent Gurus and the Quality Literature.................. 48

xii CHAPTER Page

The Forging of Quality Management: Contributions from Quality Certification and Awards-Granting Organizations....................................... 64 Ontological, Epistemological, and Methodological Foundations of Quality Management.............................. 73 Quality Management/Continuous Improvement as Viewed from the Culture Theory Tradition: Artifacts, Espoused Values, Beliefs and Underlying Assumptions.................................................................... 90 Summary............................................................................ 110

III RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES............................................. 112

Direction and Focus of the Research Design...................... 112 Case Selection.................................................................... 114 Adoption of Qualitative and Empirical Anchors, and Associative Tools and Instrumentation............................ 116 Case Study Approach.......................................................... 116 Institutional Review Board: Review and Approval............... 119 Quantitative Instrumentation and Protocols......................... 120 Quantitative Fieldwork Preparation, Final Instrument Design, Acknowledged Caveats and Limitations....................................................................... 121 Methodological Triangulation............................................... 131 Naturalistic Inquiry: Methodological Attributions and Associative Field Preparations........................................ 132 Methodological Intent.......................................................... 138 Establishing Interview Focus and Instrument Design Regimen.............................................................. 140

IV ANALYSES AND FINDINGS.................................................... 148

Methodology Overview........................................................ 148 Quantitative Analysis........................................................... 150 Quantitative Instrumentation............................................ 151 Descriptive Analyses and Measures of Central Tendencies.................................................................. 156 Inferential Statistical Analyses......................................... 181

xiii CHAPTER Page

Qualitative Analysis............................................................. 216 Methodological Bridge..................................................... 216 Instrumentation................................................................ 218 Factors Influencing the Interview Environment and Entry into the Field........................................................ 220 Coding Mechanisms, Clues, and Attributions.................. 224 First Impressions............................................................. 234 Research Question #1: “What Are the Espoused Values and Beliefs in the Leander ISD (TX) and to What Extent Are They Consistent with Detert’s Quality Management Core Values?”............................. 235 Research Question #2: “How and to What Extent Are Practices in the Leander ISD (TX), Aligned with Detert’s Quality Management Core Values and the Philosophy of Continuous Improvement?” ................... 283 Research Question # 3. “How Are Personal Experiences in the Leander ISD (TX) Reflective of, or Associated with, Detert’s Nine Core Values and the Philosophy of Continuous Improvement?”...................................... 383 Research Question #4: “How Are the Values, Beliefs and Underlying Assumptions of the Leander ISD (TX) That Sustain and Promote Detert’s Nine Core Values and the Philosophy of Continuous Improvement, Manifested through District Artifacts, Creations, and Processes?”.................................................................. 405

V DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 474

Summative Discussion of Research Design........................ 474 Section 1: Discussion of Findings, and Derivation of Conclusions by Research Question and Core Value... 479 Research Question #1. “What Are the Espoused Values and Beliefs in the Leander ISD (TX) and to What Extent Are They Consistent with Detert’s Quality Management Core Values?”............. 479 Research Question #2. “How and to What Extent Are Practices in the Leander ISD (TX) Aligned with Detert’s Quality Management Core Vales and the Philosophy of Continuous Improvement?”............................................................ 505

xiv

CHAPTER Page

Research Question #3. “How Are Personal Experiences in the Leander ISD (TX) Reflective of or Associated with, Detert’s Nine Core Values and the Philosophy of Continuous Improvement?”........................................................... 566 Research Question #4. “How Are the Values, Beliefs, and Underlying Assumptions of the Leander ISD (TX) That Sustain and Promote Detert’s Nine Core Values and the Philosophy of Continuous Improvement, Manifested through District Artifacts, Creations, and Processes?”................................................................ 573 Section 2. Evaluation of Institutional Values through the Organizational Culture Framework: An Analysis of the Nine Core Values Proposed by Detert, Louis, and Schroeder (2001)............................................... 585 Core Value #1 Discussion and Conclusions: “A Shared Vision and Shared Goals among Faculty, Staff, and Administrators Are Critical for School Success.”..................................................................... 586 Core Value #2 Discussion and Conclusions: “Educational Needs Should Be Determined Primarily by Parents, Community Groups, Students, and Other Stakeholders.”........................... 593 Core Value #3 Discussion and Conclusions: “Improving Education Requires a Long-term Commitment.”............................................................. 595 Core Value #4 Discussion and Conclusions: “A School Should Strive to Continually Improve Education.”................................................................. 597 Core Value #5 Discussion and Conclusions: “Teachers (Employees) Should Be Active in Improving the Overall School Operation.”................... 598 Core Value #6 Discussion and Conclusions: “Collaboration Is Necessary for an Effective School.”. 600 Core Value #7 Discussion and Conclusions: “Decision-making Should Rely on Factual Information.”............................................................... 602

xv

Page

Core Value #8 Discussion and Conclusions: “Quality Problems Are Caused by Poor Systems and Processes, Not by Employees.”........................... 604 Core Value #9 Discussion and Conclusions: “Quality Can Be Improved within Existing Resources.”................................................................ 608 Summative Analysis and Conclusions............................. 614 Recommendations for Further Study....................................... 621 Closing Thoughts............................................................. 627

REFERENCES............................................................................................ 628 APPENDIX A1............................................................................................. 655 APPENDIX A2............................................................................................. 656 APPENDIX A3............................................................................................. 657 APPENDIX A4............................................................................................. 665 APPENDIX B1............................................................................................. 667 APPENDIX B2............................................................................................. 668 APPENDIX B3............................................................................................. 669 APPENDIX B4............................................................................................. 670 APPENDIX B5............................................................................................. 671 APPENDIX B6............................................................................................. 672 APPENDIX B7............................................................................................. 673 APPENDIX B8............................................................................................. 675 APPENDIX B9............................................................................................. 676 APPENDIX B10........................................................................................... 677

xvi Page

APPENDIX B11........................................................................................... 678 APPENDIX B12........................................................................................... 679 APPENDIX B13........................................................................................... 680 APPENDIX B14........................................................................................... 683 APPENDIX B15........................................................................................... 688 APPENDIX B16........................................................................................... 690 APPENDIX B17........................................................................................... 691 APPENDIX B18........................................................................................... 692 APPENDIX B19........................................................................................... 693 APPENDIX B20........................................................................................... 694 APPENDIX C1............................................................................................. 695 APPENDIX C2............................................................................................. 696 APPENDIX C3............................................................................................. 697 APPENDIX C4............................................................................................. 698 APPENDIX C5............................................................................................. 699 APPENDIX C6............................................................................................. 700 APPENDIX C7............................................................................................. 701 APPENDIX C8............................................................................................. 702 VITA .......................................................................................................................... 703

xvii LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE Page 1 An Illustration of Some Early 20 th Century Management Philosophy Connections............................................................. 31

2 Deming Cycle................................................................................. 53

3 Methodological Framework............................................................ 149

4 Likert-type Scale Used for Assessing Presence of ‘Core Value’.... 152

5 Summary Chart of Means: Administrators, Instructional, Support Function, Elementary, and Secondary Groups.............. 167

6 Summary Chart of Standard Deviations: Administrators, Instructional, Support Function, Elementary, and Secondary Groups...................................................................... 170

7 Summary Chart of Means: By Gender and Years of In-District Experience.................................................................. 171

8 Summary Chart of Standard Deviations: By Gender and Years of In-District Experience.................................................... 175

9 Visio Brainstorming Template: Sample Deconstruction Page of Interview Transcription................................................... 225

10 Interviews: Reporting Outline......................................................... 228

11 Time Management Matrix (Covey, 1989)....................................... 317

12 The Leander ISD Learning Model.................................................. 408

13 Common Elements: QM Core Concepts, Leander Way, & Nine Core Values.................................................................... 413

14 Continuum of Representation: Parents, Students, Community Groups, and Other Stakeholder Involvement in Educational Decision-Making......................................................................... 516

xviii LIST OF TABLES

TABLE Page

1 TQM Interpretive Perspectives....................................................... 61

2 Other Quality Management Interpretive Perspectives.................... 62

3 Frequency of Attributes from Selected Quality Management Articles........................................................................................ 63 4 Core Principles/Concepts/Values................................................... 67 5 Baldrige Applications, 1988-2007................................................... 69 6 Core Concepts: Summary Analysis of Quality Management Core Concepts from the Literature, Preeminent Quality Gurus, and Certification/Award Granting Organizations.............. 72

7 QM/TQM “Management Constructs” Surveys................................ 88

8 Quality Core Values and Corresponding Opposites....................... 98

9 Final Instrument Descriptors.......................................................... 123

10 Demographic Variables of Survey.................................................. 128

11 Number of Surveys Analyzed by Demographic Profile................... 131

12 Attributes of Rationalistic Research and Naturalistic Inquiry.......... 134

13 Survey Returns for Administrators.................................................. 155

14 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #1: Role of Vision................. 158

15 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #2: Determination of Educational Needs..................................................................... 159

16 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #3: Long versus Short-term Needs....................................................................... 160

17 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #4: Managing Change.......... 161

xix TABLE Page

18 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #5: Decision-making Involvement................................................................................ 162

19 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #6: Collaboration and Autonomy................................................................................... 163

20 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #7: Decision-making Environment............................................................................... 164

21 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #8: The Source of Problems.................................................................................... 165

22 Descriptive Statistics for Core Value #9: Results & Resources...... 166

23 Descriptive Statistics for 1 st and 2 nd Survey Distributions............... 176

24 Core Value Ranking by Means for Administrators, Randomized General Population List, and Distributions............ 177

25 Core Value Ranking by Means for Gender, Instruction, and Support Function........................................................................ 177

26 Core Value Ranking by Means for Experience............................... 178

27 Core Value Ranking by Means for Campus Level Instruction........ 178

28 Case Processing Summary for Randomized General Employee List.............................................................................. 182

29 Reliability Statistics......................................................................... 182

30 Case Processing Summary for Administrators List........................ 183

31 Reliability Statistics for Administrators............................................ 183

32 Administrator List by Gender.......................................................... 188

33 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects of the Administrator Group by Gender................................................................................... 189

34 Between-Subjects Factors by Assignment for Administrator List... 190

xx TABLE Page

35 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects of the Administrator Group by Assignment: CO Administrators and Principals versus Assistant Principals......................................................... 191

36 Between-Subjects Factors by Experience for Administrator List.... 192

37 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects of the Administrator List by Experience...................................................................... 193

38 Between-Subjects Factors for Survey Distributions........................ 194

39 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for Two Randomized Survey Distributions Derived from the LISD General Population............. 195

40 Between-Subjects Factors for the Randomized General List by Gender............................................................................. 197

41 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for the Randomized General List by Gender............................................................... 198

42 Summary of Two Factor Factorials to Account for Distribution Response Bias for the Randomized General List by Gender..... 198

43 Between-Subjects Factors for the Randomized General List by Service Function............................................................. 199

44 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for the Randomized General List by Service Function................................................ 200

45 Summary of Two Factor Factorials to Account for Distribution Response Bias for the Randomized General List by Service Function............................................................. 201

46 Between-Subjects Factors by Campus Assignment for the Randomized General List........................................................... 203

47 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for the Randomized General List by Campus Assignment: Elementary/Secondary................ 204

xxi TABLE Page

48 Summary of Two Factor Factorials to Account for Distribution Response Bias for the Randomized General List by Campus Assignment: Elementary/Secondary........................... 204

49 Between-Subjects Factors for Campus Assignment, Elementary and Middle School Instructional Groups: Core Value #7............................................................................ 205

50 Summary of Two Factor Factorial to Account for Distribution Response Bias for the Randomized General List by Campus Assignment, Elementary and Middle School Instructional Groups: Core Value #7.......................................... 206

51 Between-Subjects Factors for Campus Assignment, Elementary and High School Instructional Groups..................... 206

52 Summary of Two Factor Factorial to Account for Distribution Response Bias for the Randomized General List by Campus Assignment, Elementary and High School Instructional Groups: Core Value #7.......................................... 207

53 Between-Subjects Factors for the Randomized General List by Experience...................................................................... 208

54 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for the Randomized General List by Years of Experience Completed in District........ 208

55 Summary of Two Factor Factorial to Account for Distribution Response Bias for the Randomized General List by Years of Experience Completed in District................................. 209

56 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for the Randomized General List by Years of Experience Completed in District: “8 or More Years” and “3-7 Years”.............................................. 210

57 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for the Randomized General List by Years of Experience Completed in District: “8 or More Years” and “0-2 Years”............................................. 210

xxii TABLE Page

58 Hypothesis Results for Randomized General List by Service Function (Instructional vs. Support Function Employees).......... 212

59 Hypothesis Results for Randomized Sample List by Educator Campus Assignment: Elementary vs. High School..... 212

60 Distribution Ranges by Gender and Mean Scores for Selected Qualitative Interviews: Randomized General Population............ 215

61 Selection Distribution Based on Experience................................... 215

62 Core Value Descriptors and Corresponding Interview Questions.. 219

63 List of Respondents by Group........................................................ 232

64 Relationships between the Leander Way and QM/CI Core Concepts................................................................ 412

65 Process "Level of Freedom" Rating................................................ 447

66 Referenced Artifacts: Linkages and Patterns................................. 468

67 Conceptual Differentiation of Continuous Improvement Training and Professional Development by Accumulated Knowledge or Years of District Experience................................ 529

68 Core Value Means for Child Nutrition, Transportation, and Maintenance Services................................................................ 534

69 Leander ISD Collaboration Efforts: As Examined through Primary Improvement Orientations and Span of Stakeholder Collaboration.............................................................................. 548

70 Common QM/CI Values: As Reflected through Leander ISD Practice and Beliefs, and as Proposed by Detert, Louis, and Schroeder (2001)....................................................................... 620

1 CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

Cheshire Cat: “If you don’t know where you are going, any path will take you there”. As adapted from Alice’s adventures in wonderland, Chapter 6 (Carroll, 1941).

Leonardo da Vinci: “Those who fall in love with practice without science are like a sailor who enters a ship without helm or compass, and who never can be certain whither he is going” (Randall, 1953, p. 200).

Introduction to the Problem

Quality Management, as manifested through an eclectic blend of philosophical constructs, principles, and practices, helped Japanese companies forge a path leading to world marketplace domination after World War II and compelling productivity and quality manufacturing performances during the 1980s (Dumaine, 1995; Detert, 2001). Credited for emphasizing the virtues of involved and visionary leadership and touted for promoting internal and external cooperation, ongoing employee training and learning, process management, continuous improvement, employee fulfillment, and customer satisfaction, it became a luring model and tempting pathway for sluggish-performing American ____________ This dissertation follows the style of The Journal of Educational Research

2 businesses (Ahire, Golhar, & Waller, 1996; Boggs, 2004). Much is written about Quality Management and during the last several decades the general concept donned a variety of monikers which are often used interchangeably in the management and business literature, e.g., Total Quality Management, Continuous Process Improvement, Quality First, Do it Right the First Time, Kaizen (the Japanese sibling to Continuous Improvement), Six Sigma, and Reengineering (Marton, 1997). From 1993 through 1996 alone, there were over 900 articles in relevant databases addressing one or more issues related to TQM (Ghobadian & Gallear, 1997). The range and quantity of articles became so profuse and the reported practices so diffuse, particularly during the early 1990s, that Watson and Korukonda referred to the Quality Management phenomenon as a ‘dialectical’ jungle (1995). Contributing to the confusing quagmire of news reports and journal articles spanning the past several decades, were contrasting assessments and a wide range of opinions regarding both the practical worth of the various manifestations of Quality Management and the true extent of adoption. For many, quality management was nothing more than a fad or a “buzzword” (Ettorre, 1997; Gibson, Tesone, & Blackwell, 2003; Giroux, 2006). Peter Senge declared, “The TQM fad has pretty much come and gone, the “court is still out” on its longer-term impacts” (1990, p. xi). Peter Scholtes asserted that the philosophy moved past the ‘fad phase’ from 1985 to 1992 and “continues as smaller but slowly growing core groups who maintain the undiluted

3 principles developed by Deming, Juran, and Ishikawa” (Harmon, 1997, p. 9). Gibson & Tesone were in agreement and further proposed that management fads progress through a life cycle of discovery, wild acceptance, digestion, disillusionment, and ending with ‘hard core’ groups that continue to espouse and practice the philosophy (2001). Others were persuaded that the primary tenets of quality management, such as customer or client focus, continuous improvement, and teamwork, live on in successful corporations as permanent affirmations and have become more or less institutionalized in their respective cultures (Detert, et al, 2001). In a more dismissive vetting, Giroux reported that Quality Management lost its influence by the end of the 20 th century because: (1) there was a lingering disconnect between broadly applicable relevance and conceptual rigor (theory), (2) organizations failed to reconcile QM constructs with conflicting goals and trade-offs, and (3) the network of adherents was not strong or stable enough to ensure its continued adoption and proliferation (2006). Equally pessimistic was Harari’s condemnation alleging that within the US and across Europe, not more than a third of the TQM implementations achieved any tangible level of success (1993). Conversely, Kotter and Heskett’s eleven year study of 200 ‘blue-chip’ enterprises, indicated that companies following the principal tenets of TQM, particularly those related to serving the interests of customers, stakeholders, and employees, significantly outperformed those with a more limited strategic focus (1992). Representing yet another outlook, Maguad asserted that quality

4 management theory is still in the embryonic stages of development and that “it will probably take many more decades if not a whole century for this discipline to mature” (2006, p.201). Differing analyses and perspectives are strewn across the literature with no sure way of reckoning the current state of affairs with regard to the breadth and depth of adoption and long term utility, beyond suggestions that ‘Quality Management’ is a well-traveled philosophy that has assimilated into mainstream management practice and continues evolving into conceptually related variants (Goeke and Offodile, 2005). While there is a tendency to associate quality management practice with the business community, Scholtes claimed “the most exciting progress in quality is being made in non-business service sectors” (Harmon, 1997, p. 9). This notion garnered agreement from Detert who opined, “the 1990’s and beyond appear to be the decades for QM (or its close cousins) in educational institutions” (Detert et al, 2001, p. 184). Regardless of these optimistic assessments for the future of Quality Management in education, there is little reason to believe these new endeavors will experience any greater success than that of the business and manufacturing sectors, absent guidance and influence from established theory. Sitkin, Sutcliffe, & Schroeder make the argument that much of what we have today with regard to Quality Management is little more than descriptions of practice and anecdotal stories (1994). According to Deming, for an organization to implement long term and effective practice, it must first have a foundation of theory from which to build knowledge (1994).

5 One approach to Quality Management theory development is to examine the paradigm through the organizational culture tradition. Detert, Louis, and Schroeder suggest that organizations are best understood through the view of culture and underlying support values (2001). In order to link theory with practice there must be a common framework to describe the values that characterize Quality Management culture. In accordance, Detert, et al, suggest that there are nine core values that frame quality management culture and that any study of culture, be it quantitative or qualitative, is best crafted with this in mind (2001). In the 2001 study, Detert, et al, extrude “Nine Core Values” through a ‘three prong approach’. The derivation of the core values emerged from efforts to triangulate the (1) Baldrige Criteria with (2) Quality Management literature and (3) a NGT (Nominal Group Technique) analysis from a small group of experienced Quality Management practitioners (Detert et al, 2001). The results of Detert’s study suggest that an effective Quality Management school culture contains and promotes the following core values: 1. A shared vision and shared goals among faculty, staff and administrators are critical for school success. 2. Educational needs should be determined by parents, community groups, students, and all relevant stakeholders. 3. Improving education requires a long-term commitment. 4. A school should strive to continually improve education. 5. Teachers should be active in improving the overall school operation. 6. Collaboration is necessary for an effective school. 7. Decision-making should rely on factual information. 8. Quality problems are usually caused by sub-optimized systems and processes, not by teachers or other employee groups. 9. Quality can be improved with the existing resources. (Detert, et al, 2001, pp. 191-193)

6

These “Nine Core Values” are in essence, what Glaser and Strauss would refer to as ‘emergent’ propositions that beg for verification (2007). However, values alone cannot describe all of the subtleties and nuances of culture as there are multiple levels at which culture exists and is manifested in organizations (Hofstede, Neuijen, Ohayv, and Sanders, 1990). Schein contends these multiple levels of culture exist as artifacts, espoused values, and the tacit, basic underlying assumptions that are manifested as behavioral norms (1992). This study seeks to overlay the Nine Core Values across these multiple levels of culture, to determine if dependencies and correlations exist and if there is a discernable path between subsequent theory and practice. This dissertation applies both qualitative and quantitative strands of research to examine Detert’s Nine Core Values, as observed within the confines of a public school system that has espoused the Continuous Improvement variant of quality management for over 15 years. These strands of research seek to understand the Quality Management paradigm through the culture theory framework as manifested in and through the espoused values, underlying assumptions, practices, lived-out employee experiences, and cultural artifacts of the Leander ISD, Leander, Texas. The quantitative strand consists of a researcher developed survey based on the Nine Core Values, and the qualitative strand borrows heavily from the case study approach. Cultural values and their associative dependencies, in the broader interpretive sense, lend

Full document contains 726 pages
Abstract: Many of today's schools are caught at the center of a perfect storm fueled by the pressures from a more demanding public, increased governmental accountability, warring political factions, shrinking resources, and new technologies and methodologies. Proponents of Quality Management/Continuous Improvement (QM/CI) have championed the philosophy for over two decades as a solution for addressing these kinds of pressures and systems problems. Unfortunately, QM/CI theory remains underdeveloped and subsequently often fails to align with or guide practice. Detert, Louis, and Schroeder propose that QM/CI theory is best explored through the organizational culture framework that borrows heavily from the work of Edgar Schein. According to Schein, organizational culture exists at the multiple levels of espoused values, material artifacts and creations, and underlying assumptions (deeply held organizational values that guide the norms of behavior). Detert and colleagues contend that there are "nine" core values that define the efficacy of QM/CI in school cultures. To assess the viability of these values, as lived out in the Leander ISD, Leander, Texas, the study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and was both confirmatory and exploratory in research intent. The Nine Core Values were examined through surveys, purposefully selected interviews, a review of the quality literature, on-site observations, and school documents, with the results triangulated to derive the findings and conclusions. Deeply and widely held values should be observable throughout the multiple levels of culture, expressed through espoused values, material artifacts and creations, and practices that reflect the norms of behavior. The findings and conclusions suggest that the first eight of the Nine Core Values are lived out in the Leander ISD as identifiable norms of behavior: shared vision, outside stakeholder involvement in educational decision-making, long term commitment, continuous improvement, employee involvement in improving the school, collaboration, fact-based decision-making, and focusing on processes rather than people. The ninth Core Value, "Quality can be improved within existing resources", could not be corroborated across the methodological triangulations. The study also unearthed two additional Core Values, one associated with the organizational learning dimension of QM/CI, and a second incorporating the elimination of fear and blame.