Broad Gives $1.1 Million for Baldrige Efforts

The Broad Foundation recently awarded $1.14 million to the Long Beach Unified School District to expand the district’s award-winning use of Baldrige strategies for continuous improvement at schools and central offices. The three-year grant will help to increase use of the techniques throughout the district, including elementary, middle, K-8 and high school classrooms. The grant exceeds the combined $1 million amount previously awarded by the foundation to LBUSD for winning the Broad Prize for Urban Education as the best urban school district in the nation, for qualifying as a finalist the previous year, and for past Baldrige implementation. "This generous grant is a tremendous vote of confidence by The Broad Foundation for what we’re doing here," said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools. "The training and services paid for by Broad will provide invaluable benefits to Long Beach Unified students for years to come." The Broad Foundation was founded by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad. "I can imagine no more important contribution to our country’s future than a long-term commitment to improving urban K-12 public schools," Broad says at www.broadfoundation.org. Two local schools that have already incorporated Baldrige processes recently were awarded the 2004 California Prospector Award from California Awards for Performance Excellence: Hill Classical Middle School and Emerson Parkside Academy. Baldrige provides a systematic organizational process that is used by some of the most profitable businesses in the nation. It is based on seven criteria: leadership, strategic planning, student/stakeholder focus, measurement and analysis, faculty/staff focus, process management and results. Baldrige uses quality tools to identify and prioritize areas of need, fully describe obstacles to achieving goals, identify solutions and develop plans to implement these solutions. Periodic data-driven monitoring confirms whether defined actions are working. In Baldrige lingo, this is called Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA). The district already has provided extensive staff training. Since 1999, more than 1,400 people have been trained by Baldrige trainers. The Broad Foundation has been a major supporter of past training efforts. LBUSD has launched a trainer of trainers effort that has resulted in several LBUSD employees now being capable of sharing Baldrige techniques with coworkers. All major LBUSD departments, all K-8, all elementary, all middle schools and one high school have begun implementing Baldrige strategies. To date, all elementary, K-8 and middle school principals and vice principals have been trained, as have most counselors and facilitators. The latest Broad grant will pay for trainers and support so that district offices and all elementary, middle and K-8 schools can begin continuous improvement cycles. LBUSD has used these strategies for three years, and central office departments and schools see many tangible improvements: • Student Outcomes—Schools that have been implementing these strategies for two to three years are beginning to see significant results in student motivation, achievement and behavior. Baldrige schools are outperforming other district schools in reducing suspensions and boosting achievement on tests. Students also report that they are better able to solve problems, resulting in an improved school environment. • Cost Savings—A budget reduction focus group consisting of representatives from the business community, parents, district office departments, schools, Teachers Association of Long Beach and California School Employees Association used Baldrige prioritization strategies to recommend approximately $37 million in reductions over three years. The Board of Education approved those recommendations. • Staff Morale/Employee Satisfaction—Employee satisfaction surveys, which have been administered to all participating Baldrige departments and schools since their development two years ago, indicate a high level of satisfaction at most sites. • Customer Satisfaction—Surveys of people who interact with district offices—Business Services, Financial Services, Special Education, Personnel Commission, Human Resource Services, Payroll, International Student Registration, and Nutrition Services—show increased satisfaction after those offices used Baldrige techniques. • Problem Solving—Problem solving teams among departments are becoming common throughout the district. One of the first such teams resulted in an improved additional hourly pay process, with a reduction from 500 problem timecards in 2000-01 to zero. The Baldrige process is named after Malcolm Baldrige, who from 1981 to 1987 was U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He developed quality improvement strategies and criteria used by the nation’s leading corporations. His efforts were recognized by Congress in 1987. Organizations that fully implement Baldrige criteria outperform the S&P 500 companies by 6.5 to 1 in terms of financial indicators and employee and customer satisfaction.