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The Official Baldrige Blog

11 Examples of How the Baldrige Excellence Framework Strengthens K-12 Schools

The first two U.S. public school districts to earn Baldrige Awards—the nation’s highest honor for U.S. organizations that achieve excellence—showed that role-model performance can be achieved in elementary and secondary education schools and systems of wide-ranging sizes, sites, and strategic challenges and advantages.

In fact, the 2001 Baldrige Award recipients are Chugach (Alaska) School District (see profile in this PDF) and Pearl River (NY) School District (see profile in this PDF) were hardly alike: The 22,000-square-mile Chugach district had 30 staff members serving 214 students, most of whom lived in remote areas accessible only by aircraft. In contrast, with 203 teachers, the suburban Pearl River School District, located 20 miles north of New York City, enrolled 2,500 kindergarten-through-12th-grade (K-12) students that year.

Over the next 15 years, six more Baldrige Award recipients in K-12 education would continue to reflect the diversity of the nation’s education system. Those organizations include a charter school that’s part of a public school district in California, a very large and ethnically diverse school district in Maryland, and suburban school districts in the states of Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

Below you can find links to blogs about how leaders in those and other K-12 education organizations have used the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence (part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework) to help them effectively and efficiently provide a high-quality education to students today while addressing needs related to poverty and immigration. Listed in order of publication date (with more recent blogs first), the following blogs describe merely a sampling of ways that such education organizations have benefitted from adopting a systems perspective and other core concepts of the Baldrige framework’s approach to managing for excellent performance.

1. What You Can Learn from a Baldrige Award-Winning School (March 23, 2017)

2. Want to Improve Education? Why Process Management Matters (February 23, 2017)

3. The Exceptional Student Focus of a 2015 Baldrige Award-Winning School (June 30, 2016)

4. A Rural School System Transforms Itself (Supported by the Baldrige Framework) (April 21, 2016)

5. Improving Education with Baldrige: Tips to Get Started (April 8, 2015)

6. Sustaining Educational Excellence Despite Challenges (March 3, 2015)

7. Tight Education Funding, Growing Student Needs: Where Baldrige Is Essential (April 2, 2014)

8. Value of the Organizational Profile to an Ever-Changing Organization (March 25, 2014)

9. Preparing Students for Future Jobs: Update from a 2010 Baldrige Award Winner (March 13, 2014)

10. "The Little Engine That Could" Is Now a National Role Model  (January 28, 2014)

11.  A Large School District Shows the Way to Excellence (January 31, 2013)


 The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program provides resources and services that support high performance by organizations involved in U.S. education at every level.

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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