Continuous improvement: Monitoring the quality of student learning

By Joan Richardson

Some teachers and principals think ‘quality’ and immediately see run charts and Pareto diagrams. Principal Mary Jo Taylor thinks ‘quality’ and has visions of sitting in green Jell-O. Taylor will plop herself into a mound of green Jell-O if the 430 students at Ridgeview Elementary School in Ashtabula, Ohio reach their goal of reading one million minutes at home during the school year.

Brainstorming for causes

Brainstorming is a method for tapping the resources of the entire group. Through brainstorming, a group strives for the number of ideas, not quality. To ensure that that happens, the facilitator asks participants at the beginning to refrain from evaluating or criticizing ideas when they are announced.


Fishing for root causes

This activity builds on the brainstorming described on Page 3. The chart is known variously as the Ishikawa, fishbone, and cause-and-effect diagram. In this activity, participants see how various causes related to each other.


Fishbone diagram


Identifying priorities

This activity provides an efficient way to identify priority causes. At the end of this activity, participants should be ready to begin developing action plans for their priority causes.


Resources: Learning about quality


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