MCPS Receives Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

November 23, 2010
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been named one of seven recipients of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today. This is the highest presidential honor an American organization can receive for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.

MCPS is only the sixth public school district to receive this recognition in the history of the Baldrige Award and is, by far, the largest. In fact, MCPS has nearly seven times the number of students as the previous largest district to receive the award. MCPS is the first Maryland-based organization to be a Baldrige recipient. President Barack Obama will present the award to the seven recipients during a White House ceremony next year.

“Congratulations to Superintendent Jerry Weast and the entire Montgomery County Public Schools community on receiving the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Montgomery County is showing the nation what happens when you set high expectations for your staff and your students.”

The Baldrige Award—which was created by Congress in 1987 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce—recognizes American businesses of all sizes and types, as well as organizations in the areas of health care, education, non-profit and government. The education award, which has been given out since 1999, specifically recognizes K-12 and higher education institutions that improve student outcomes, engage and empower staff and the community, carefully allocate resources and demonstrate leadership and social responsibility.

“Receiving the Baldrige Award really is a culmination of all the hard work and commitment that began in 1999. We truly have created an organization where every member of the MCPS staff is dedicated to improving the instruction and services that support our students and our community,” said Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “This award is a tremendous honor for MCPS; and every one of our 22,000 employees deserves credit for making our school system so strong.”

In MCPS, there is a strong organizational belief in continuous improvement and performance excellence dating back to the creation of the strategic plan, “Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence” in 1999. MCPS began investing in building the capacity of its people by using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to align school system’s processes and structure to produce exceptional results. MCPS continues to systematically review, refine, and adapt its processes to provide students with opportunities for success and to ensure customer satisfaction and engagement; management efficiency; workforce satisfaction and engagement; budgetary, financial and market results, and social responsibility.

“This prestigious award shows that across the organization we have built a culture that is singularly focused on producing results for our children. Our community is committed to equipping its children to work in the 21st century which will strengthen our community for years to come,” said Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “The return on our community’s investment was abundantly clear this year when the Class of 2010 earned more than $234 million in college scholarships with approximately 90 percent of students enrolling in higher education.”

“Today is a proud day in Montgomery County—our world-class school system has been recognized by the President of the United States for its ongoing commitment and outstanding performance,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “Our community has shown an unwavering commitment to education, which has allowed our teachers and staff to perform their jobs to the highest levels.”

“The staff, students and community of Montgomery County Public Schools have shown a long-term commitment to excellence and that commitment has been recognized by the President today with the Baldrige Award,” said Valerie Ervin, vice president of the Montgomery County Council and chair of its education committee. “We must remain dedicated to providing a world-class education to all students in a fair and fiscally-responsible manner.”

The Baldrige Award is the latest in a series of high-profile honors and recognition for MCPS that have singled out the school system’s strong student achievement results and progress in closing the achievement gap.
MCPS was also one of five finalists for the 2010 Broad Prize in Urban Education—the nation’s top honor for school districts that are closing the achievement gap. MCPS is the only school district in the nation that can claim both accolades. Earlier this year, Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States, published a case study that holds up MCPS as a model for providing effective, results-driven prekindergarten education to thousands of low-income children.

In 2004, MCPS also received Maryland’s most prestigious award for organizational performance excellence—the U.S. Senate Productivity Award—for implementation of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. In 2008, the American Productivity and Quality Center recognized MCPS as a best practice partner for its expertise in establishing professional learning communities, professional development, data driven decision making, math and science instruction and the MCPS program for students learning English.  

As part of the Baldrige application process, MCPS was evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in the following seven areas:  leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement; analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. The eight expert examiners assigned to MCPS spent roughly 1,000 hours reviewing hundreds of documents and conducting an on-site visit which consisted of visiting 36 schools and interviewing employees from every part of the school system.

Here are highlights of MCPS’ outstanding results that were in the Baldrige application and verified by the examiners:

Strong achievement for all students: In 2009, 73 percent of MCPS kindergarten students were reading at Level 6 (above grade level) by the end of the year.

Closing the achievement gap: Between 2001 and 2009, the percentage of African American and Hispanic students completing Algebra 1 or higher with a grade of C or better by the end of 8th grade increased from 19 percent to 50 percent. 

High expectations for all students: More than 90 percent of MCPS parents of students in elementary, middle and high schools agreed that their child’s teachers expect their child to do well in class.

Record achievement results: Students in the MCPS Class of 2010
posted a record SAT composite score of 1653, outperforming their state and national peers by 151 and 144 points, respectively. African American and Hispanic test-takers posted the strongest gains on the exam.

Success in rigorous, college-prep courses: In 2009,
MCPS students took, and passed, Advanced Placement exams in record numbers. For example, from 1999-2009, the number of AP exams taken by MCPS students has tripled and last year, 72.3 percent of those exams received a college ready score of 3 or higher. For the Class of 2009, all ethnic and racial groups scored above the average for all students nationwide.

Nation’s best record of graduation for large districts: MCPS has
the highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts, according to Education Week.

Home to nation’s best high schools: In 2010, MCPS had seven of America’s best 100 high schools, more than any other school district; and all 25 high schools are in the top 3 percent in the nation, according to Newsweek.

High levels of employee satisfaction:  In 2009, MCPS had a teacher retention rate of 95.4 percent. The turnover rate for teachers was 4.6 percent compared to the national average of 16.8 percent.

The Baldrige Award was named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce. Congress created the award to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses and organizations. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 87 organizations have received Baldrige Awards. Only nine educational institutions have been recognized with the award—three in higher education and six school systems.

U.S. Department of Commerce Baldrige Website 

MCPS Baldrige Website

View MCPS' Baldrige Application

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