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Monday, February 6, 2012

Individuals Or Teams

The effort by the state of New York (and the federal government via the U.S. Department of Education) to relate measures of student performance (they need to use the term learner instead of student if they really hope to stimulate progress) directly to measures of individual teacher performance, has produced a process that resurrects the image of the multi-headed serpent of Greek mythology.

Critics of education often contend that schools should be run like a business. In that view, free market factors would determine winners and losers, rewarding success and rejecting failure. Many of these same critics suggest that applying a "carrot and stick" approach to teacher evaluation would increase accountability and ensure success in the classroom.

Let's enter the business arena for a moment and review an alternate perspective provided by the authors of books in the field of business - a competitive environment if there ever was one. Consider that the life span of a business rests upon the organization's agility in response to meeting the needs of customers and their accountability within the framework of product and service performance measures.

From The Southwest Airlines Wayby Jody Hoffer Gittell

"The problem with accountability systems pinned to individuals or functions rather than to the larger process, is that it makes people tend to look out for themselves to avoid recrimination rather than focusing on their shared goals. Trying to achieve control through functional accountability can seriously undermine information sharing and learning. Traditional measurement and accountability programs weaken relationships and the cooperation vital to organizational success.

Cross functional performance measurement improves coordination through its positive impact on relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect, resulting in better performance.
The problem is that an organization’s most critical work processes tend to span multiple functional or departmental boundaries, and the outcomes of those work processes depend not on any one function but on the actions that are taken by people in each of these functions.

Design a performance measurement system that focuses on process outcomes rather than functional outcomes."

From The Marketing Imagination by Theodore Levitt

"Good work in pursuit of wrong purposes is more damaging than bad work in pursuit of right purposes."

Are the policy initiatives springing forth from Albany and Washington D.C. based on research and best evidence/practices, or are they merely opportunities for political exploitation?

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