Located between Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Nashville, the Clarksville- Montgomery Schools is the seventh largest school district in the state of Tennessee with a student population of 32,500 students in 30 schools. Trained professionals numbering 4200, from the Director of Schools office to the maintenance staff, support the student body. The easiest way to give you an insight into what has happened in the Clarksville-Montgomery Schools is to align the efforts of the district to our three pillars.
Pillar 1: Voice of the Customer
I have stressed since the very beginning of this book that the key to a successful improvement effort is to get a handle on what the customers (stakeholders) want and expect from the excellent educational system. The district achieves this goal through the use of surveys and focus groups. Surveys are conducted on an annual basis with parents and staff in areas that are deemed to be high need or that have not been conducted recently. The results of these surveys are then used to make the changes to processes. One result of the surveys was in the area of preschool registration, where standardizing the process saved the district $10,500 per year.
The other vehicle is the use of a series of focus groups to determine how the customer is feeling about the school district. Each of these focus groups is comprised of a speci c population that is affected by the district processes.
On a monthly basis, members of the transformed administration within the district meet with representatives of the parents, school instructional staff, and high school students. On a bi-annual basis, the administration meets with special education student parents, the ethnic diversity parents, the military families, and the English as a Second Language parents. The purpose of these focus groups is to identify, through open dialogue, what is working and what is not within the district. It is from this input that the district can make the changes to answer the voice of the customer.
Pillar 2: District Specific
The Clarksville-Montgomery County School system has adopted the mission statement that the reason they are in business is “to educate and empower our students to reach their potential.” Within the community, the district pro- vides the avenues to make the necessary improvements as problems arise. Through comprehensive training provided to all the central office staff, the concepts behind continuous process improvement are responded to annually. It is a critical part of their compliance training offered at the beginning of each school year.
Pillar 3: TLS Continuum
The Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools determined that they wanted to become more effective in their delivery of the mission statement, so a previous director of schools made the decision to take the district through the process of qualifying as being ISO 9000:2008 certified. Developed by the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO standards lay a model for determining the effectiveness of your organization. In particular, the ISO 9000:2008 standards talk about the establishment of a quality management system.
Let’s review those standard clauses for a moment. Clause 4.0 deals with the implementation of a quality system with the understanding that you must continually improve that system. Clause 5.0 discusses the idea of management responsibility and the demonstration of management commitment to the improvement process. Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools has established an entire system to implement the standards.
Visit http://www.cmcss.net/departments/director/departmentforms.aspx and you can find copies of the entire form list including a copy of their detailed Continuous Improvement Quality Manual.
Clause 6.0 deals with resource management, specifically the training resources. It begins with Clause 6.2.2 (a) covering the question of whether the district has the necessary competence for personnel performing work affecting conformity to product requirements. The district has in place policies and procedures to make the staff able to identify things that are out of conformity. The process in place also contains feedback loops involved in sending problem areas back to the administration. In Clause 6.2.2 (b) the district lays out the training available or other methods to achieve the necessary competencies. The district has put in place an annual training regimen given every fall to all the district staff. Clause 6.2.2 (c) requires that the district has in place a method to evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken. This is then carried forward to Clause 6.2.2 (d), under which the district, as a matter of policy, ensures that the results of the various surveys and the results of process improvement efforts are publicly posted on the district’s website for the public to see and consume.
Finally, in compliance with Clause 6.2.2 (e) the district maintains a record of all the training delivered and the skills available through the district.
With these efforts in place, I want to return to an earlier point in this chapter. When a problem is uncovered, the internal committee utilized by the district comes into play. The Senior Leadership Team decides who will be the champion for the continuous improvement project. The champion will always be a Senior Leadership Team member, but the team will include stakeholders most impacted by the change. From there the champion and the administration assemble a team of subject matter experts from within the district or the community, and this group works to resolve the issues. Timing can be several months or several years.