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Benchmarking Best Practices in Accountability Systems in Education

  • ID: 40858
  • Report
  • June 2000
  • 130 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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The purpose of this multi-organization benchmarking study is to identify and examine innovations, best practices, and key trends in the area of accountability systems with the goal of district accountability systems. The areas of focus include leadership, climate and context, operations, human resources, data management, communications, and standards for teaching and learning. This study affords participants the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the issues and challenges involved in implementing and enhancing district accountability systems. Seventeen school districts and organizations participated in the study by attending a series of planning sessions, completing data-gathering surveys, and attending or hosting on-site interviews. Six of the organizations were identified as having exemplary accountability systems and were invited to participate in the study as benchmarking “best-practice partners.”

Benchmarking: The Systematic Transfer of Best Practices The past decade has seen wrenching change for many organizations. As firms and institutions have looked for ways to survive and remain profitable, a simple but powerful change strategy called “benchmarking” has evolved and become popular. Benchmarking can be described as the process by which organizations learn, modeled on the human learning process. A good working definition is “the process of identifying, learning, and adapting outstanding practices and processes from any organization, anywhere in the world, to help an organization improve its performance.” The underlying rationale for the benchmarking process is that learning by example, from best-practice cases, is the most effective means of understanding the principles and the specifics of effective practices. The most important aspects of benchmarking are twofold. First, it is not a fixed technique imposed by “experts,” but rather a process driven by the participants who are trying to change their organizations. Second, it does not use prescribed solutions to a problem but is a process through which participants learn about successful practices in other organizations and then draw on those cases to develop solutions that are most suitable for their own organizations. Benchmarking is not copying, networking, or passively reading abstracts, articles, or books. It is action learning, as demonstrated in the following description of the consortium methodology. Benchmarking is not simply a comparison of numbers or performance statistics. Numbers are helpful for identifying gaps in performance, but true process benchmarking identifies the “hows” and “whys” for performance gaps and helps organizations learn and understand how to perform at higher levels.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY<BR><BR>Overview and Study Background i <BR>Study Sponsors vi <BR>Best-Practice Partner Organizations vii <BR>Study Scope viii <BR>Benchmarking Methodology ix <BR>Acknowledgments xi<BR><BR>Section One: Key Observations<BR><BR>Leadership/Alignment 2 <BR>Climate/Context 14 <BR>Operations 22 <BR>Human Resources 28 <BR>Data Management/Measurement 33 <BR>Communications 43 <BR>Standards for Teaching and Learning 45<BR><BR>Section Two: Case Studies<BR><BR>Brazosport Independent School District 1 <BR>Houston Independent School District 2 <BR>Memphis City Schools 3 Nortel Networks 4 <BR>Seattle Public Schools 5 <BR>St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital 6
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