An assessment of Total Quality Management on a K–4 school: A case study

Robert James Bartoletti, Fordham University


Today the new paradigm in education is causing the reform of schools in an effort to improve their performance. Since A Nation at Risk , published in 1983, school districts have been working to improve the quality of education offered to all students. One of the reform efforts is the adaptation of Total Quality Management to the administration and management of public and private schools. This approach to leadership and management changes the typical model of an organization from the “scientific management” (top-down) bureaucratic model to a collaborative model of organization, continuous improvement, and employee empowerment with a strong focus on customer service. Educators are now embracing TQM as an innovation that may improve school management and teaching and learning. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact that a TQM model had on a school within a small K–12 school district and to assess the outcomes attributed to the TQM principles. The case study asked: What TQM principles emerged as being practiced within the school district? In what ways did Total Quality Management effect board/staff relationships and leadership? In what ways did Total Quality Management effect teaching and learning? Based on the study, the principles of TQM had a direct impact on district and school level leadership, customer service, teaching and learning, and school board-staff relationships. Changes in employee, student, and parent behavior occurred. The methodology employed in this study was a qualitative case study. The unit of analysis was the school within a K–12 school district. Qualitative case study methodology, which allowed for an in-depth exploration of TQM in a contextual manner, was employed. Based on the study, four themes emerged: increased participation in leadership and collaboration among all stakeholders, the development of more effective board-staff relationships, and improved customer service. Overall, the findings indicated that a transformation in the leadership took place which empowered teachers and district administration with more opportunity to participate in the leadership of the school district.

Subject Area

School administration|Industrial engineering

Recommended Citation

Bartoletti, Robert James, "An assessment of Total Quality Management on a K–4 school: A case study" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975338.