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The Official Baldrige Blog

A Large School District Shows the Way to Excellence

Those of us who work for the Baldrige Program don’t have to look far to find excellence in K-12 education. The community where our offices reside boasts one of the highest-performing school districts in the nation.

When the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) won the Baldrige Award in 2010, the national role model showed that the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence can be effectively implemented in a large and culturally diverse school district. Although five other public school districts had previously won the award, MCPS is the largest award recipient to date.

In fact, it is the 16th-largest school district in the nation and the largest in the state of Maryland, serving a student population of more than 148,000 students today. The district also is the second-largest employer in the county, with a workforce of 22,236. And its diversity is seen in student whose heritages span 164 countries and whose families speak 184 languages.

When MCPS received the Baldrige Award, the district’s board of education president, Christopher Barclay, noted, “Everywhere you go in our system, you see elements of Baldrige at work.”

According to Barclay, the systemwide use of improvement tools has enabled MCPS to “measure and analyze our performance in every corner of the school district and help us maintain a relentless focus on our main stakeholders—the students of Montgomery County.”

Here are some recent results the district has achieved:

·         Seniors from the class of 2012 had an average score of 1651 on the SAT. For the fourth year in a row, an independent analysis of graduation rates by Education Week found that MCPS had the highest graduation rate of any large school district in the nation.

·         MCPS receives very favorable ratings from parents and students in measures of general satisfaction, staff expectations, and perceptions of safety. Specifically, parent satisfaction has ranged from 91 to 98 percent, compared to a national comparative average of 85 percent in 2007. As Barclay stated at the Baldrige Award ceremony where his district was honored, “It is my hope that MCPS has shown other school districts that the Baldrige Criteria can be implemented to scale and that . . . [the] journey . . . is definitely worth the effort.”

How is your school district performing? Consider sending your school board members and district leaders a copy of the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Education Criteria for Excellence.

And read more about other Baldrige Award-winning education organizations on our website.

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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Fantastic job of bringing together the value of the Quest for Excellence . I am going to forward this to at least three people right away, a city manager, a republican student action group, and a small business development team. It's all about sharing results and your post has helped tremendously with this effort. Thank you

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