Total Quality Education

HEHS-94-76R: Published: Feb 10, 1994. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the use of total quality management (TQM) principles in elementary and secondary schools, focusing on the: (1) schools that use TQM principles; (2) benefits and challenges of implementing TQM in these schools; and (3) federal government's role in implementing TQM at elementary and secondary schools. GAO noted that: (1) only about 75 schools and districts nationwide have implemented TQM programs; (2) most school improvement or reform programs do not incorporate TQM principles; (3) many school TQM programs are the result of corporate community outreach programs; (4) each school's TQM program is unique to its operations, but all school TQM programs are based on the same TQM principles; (5) school systems need good TQM infrastructure, business management experience, political support, and cooperation between business and educators for success; (6) school boards' and teachers' skepticism about TQM benefits and their resistance to behavioral changes are barriers to TQM implementation; (7) TQM benefits include reducing student failures, improving students' academic performance, and improving school efficiency; (8) the federal government's role in schools' TQM implementation has been small; and (9) although there is no general interest in increasing the government's role, school officials have suggested ways the federal government could assist schools implementing TQM.

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