Valuable lessons can be learned from the following organisations:
Penn Foster Veterinary Academy, United States
Web-based learning earns prestigious award
Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), United Arab Emirates
Benchmarking effective in educational setting
KHDA is a government institution responsible for overseeing the education system in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. KHDA has used benchmarking to improve its own processes and to encourage benchmarking between schools. Benchmarking was conducted formally, see Figure 9 at the top of the next page, using KHDA’s own structured benchmarking methodology. It was also undertaken informally through learning from other education institutions and best-in-class companies, see Figure 10 on the next page.
One project involved benchmarking its front-line customer service with hotels to offer visitors to the government department a 5-star welcome. Benchmarking enabled KHDA to increase its customer satisfaction rating from 78 per cent in 2010, to 95.1 per cent in 2013, the highest rate amongst all Dubai government entities. In 2013, KHDA was announced as the winner of the Global Benchmarking Network’s Global Benchmarking Award. To view KHDA’s winning presentation, visit the award winner reports at BPIR.com. 
Formal benchmarking helped KHDA to develop quality assurance and inspection models that were unique in the region. Informal benchmarking helped it improve most of its internal processes, and to introduce many new ideas to Dubai, its education system, and even the region. International assessments also helped Dubai further assess the quality of its school education, and learn about its international ranking.
Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS), USA
Self-directed learning brings achievement
CAHS is a public school set in an urban environment. It expects its students to achieve excellence in all subjects, including writing and communication skills; organisational skills; timeline completion; reading comprehension; higher-level problem solving; creativity; world languages; and, mathematical and scientific skills. The school’s vision statement states that “each student who enters CAHS excels in college level coursework and graduates with scholarships; passionate, open-minded and prepared to thrive as a global citizen in college and beyond.” Students are encouraged to enrol in university-level courses; in many cases, they have earned associate’s degrees before graduating from high school. Community service is a key pillar of student achievement, and students are required to complete over 360 hours of internship experience before graduation. At CAHS high expectations are the norm – the bar is raised and never lowered to accommodate mediocrity. Student support is provided through creative scheduling; extended academically prepared for college whether or not they choose to attend immediately after graduation from high school. CAHS has received a number of awards, including a silver medal ranking by U.S. News and World Report for 2010-2012. 
The University of Florida College of Pharmacy
Web-based learning encourages a collaborative culture.
The University of Florida provides an online Master of Science in Pharmacy programme via its College of Pharmacy. The programme enables industry professionals to gain expertise and expand their career options, as students are able to take classes online after regular business hours. Frequent virtual classroom meetings are considered essential to the success of the programme. The proprietary online system used by the university makes it possible to create a culture of collaborative learning: this helps bond students together as academic colleagues, even though they may be thousands of miles apart. Classes are held live at set days and times, and they closely mirror the classes held on campus. Collaborative learning is a powerful cornerstone of online learning and leads to greater participation in classes, as students feel more secure when talking from their home environ- ment. The University Of Florida College Of Pharmacy is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the after-school assistance; and frequent email correspondence to ensure students reach their goals. Students are top colleges in the United States.
Comprehensive Case Study: Pewaukee
School District (PSD), United States
PSD, a school system in Wisconsin, United States, was the recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for 2013.  At that time, 2,760 students were enrolled in four schools (two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school). Despite having one of the most rigorous grad- uation requirements in Wisconsin, PSD achieved a 99.5 per cent graduation rate – the highest in the state. Figure 11, next page, tracks PSD’s steady improve- ment in graduation rates – a key indicator of both college and career readiness.
• Parent satisfaction with education quality during 2012-2013 was 93.8%.
• Parent satisfaction with communication was 94.8% (the national average was 74%).
• 76% of students did volunteer work (twice the national average).
The following best practices contributed to PSD’s award-winning success:
1. Best Practice: Strategic Planning
Using the following statements, annual strategic plan initiatives took into account recommendations and opin- ions from citizens, staff, parents, and management:
- i. Strategy: Teaching and Learning. PSD will provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum, delivered by high quality educators who use innovative, research-based strategies to prepare students to compete in a global environment in the 21st century.
- ii. Strategy: Technology. Create classroom environments where students engage in collaborative, inquiry-based learning, facilitated by educators who are able to use technology to transform knowledge and skills into solutions, new information, and products.
- iii. Strategy: Communication & Community Engage- ment. PSD will communicate, engage and develop partnerships with students, staff, and citizens to help reach its mission of academic excellence and positive citizenship for all students.
- iv. Strategy: Workforce Engagement & Development. PSD will use best practices to hire, retain, engage, and develop a skilled and talented workforce that will enable the District to achieve its mission.
- v. Strategy: Facilities & Operations. PSD will provide safe, healthy and efficiently operated schools to ensure the success of all students and accountability for all stakeholders
2. Best Practice: Balanced Scorecards and Performance Dashboards
Strategic planning processes led to the identification of key performance measures, which are recorded in balanced scorecards and performance dashboards to report extensively on student learning, day-to-day improvements and organisational performance. The performance dashboards use graphs and statistics to display work process efficiency and effectiveness on computer screens throughout the organisation. This information has created an agility to respond to any unexpected changes. Figure 12, describes the high-level balanced scorecard used by PSD. The scorecard includes time frames, participants and purpose of each area monitored.
3. Best Practice: Professional Learning Communities
To facilitate organisational learning, PSD adopted the Professional Learning Community (PLC) concept; the District used both yearly and daily school calendars to facilitate the sharing of job embedded knowledge. The yearly calendar included eight full PLC days for teachers to learn together and share tacit knowledge through data review teams; curriculum teams; task force meetings; and, professional development courses. These PLCs extended learning and networking opportunities, and helped foster daily problem solving, where teachers shared best practices for improving instruction and understanding of curriculum, assessment and intervention strategies. The monthly sharing of the school’s strategic plan and action plan updates also helped reinforce administrative organisational learning.
4. Best Practice: Knowledge Sharing
PSD established a District web site and used school management software to capture, manage and share knowledge. The site provided a “warehouse” for school and teacher information, subject/grade-level programme information, and course information. The web site had two-way communication functionality, which included blogging, polling and emailing member stakeholders. It also enabled the transfer of knowledge and information by staff, students and parents via secure channels. Methods for transferring information amongst the faculty and staff included email; shared network drives; professional staff development meetings; newspaper articles; surveys; newsletters; online videos; an IT help desk; and, process handbooks. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel named PSD as one of Wisconsin’s Top 100 Workplaces for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013
5. Best Practice: Technology Proficiency
To ensure students were prepared to meet the technological demands of modern society, PSD provided the appropriate resources and monitored results. Students were assessed for proficiency, and received instruction tailored to develop their technological skill set. As a result of the assessments and targeted instruction, PSD students performed at high levels with regard to their use of technology. In 2011, PSD students achieved the following performance ratings against comparable schools and when compared state-wide (see Figure 13).
PSD transformed teaching and learning by providing universal access to technology resources. Every student and staff member had access to instructional technology resources and the Internet via personal computers. Technology use, customer service, and effectiveness were systematically reviewed using IT dashboards, and the IT department was recognised for its innovative use of technology in learning.
6. Best Practice: Organisational Alignment
Each employee’s annual performance goal was strategically aligned with action plans at the appropriate organisational level. PSD’s performance evaluation system enabled each employee to understand how his/her job was aligned with the organisation’s vision, mission and values. Job descriptions outlined the knowledge, skills and attitudes required by each employee, and delineated performance expectations. The performance evaluation system facilitated dialogue about each employee’s progress towards meeting and exceeding performance expectations. An identity badge with “Opening the door to each child’s future” printed on it was worn by all employees to reinforce their key role in accomplishing PSD’s mission.
7. Best Practice: Employee Engagement
PSD identified the key elements of workforce engagement as being leadership; communication; work environment; resources; involvement; and, compensation/benefits. Measures related to each of these elements were developed with targets set for each measure and benchmarks for comparison. PSD assessed engagement through surveys such as the Employee Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, and informally through individual goal-setting meetings with managers and supervisors. Engagement was also measured in other areas including retention, absenteeism and safety.
8. Best Practice: Health & Safety
The PSD Board of Education established policies and regulations about workplace safety, security, accessibility, and wellness. A Safety Committee, comprising employees and local fire, police and safety officials, was set up to measure emergency prepared- ness and accident prevention. The committee developed a Crisis Management Plan, and held regular fire drills, tornado drills and lockdown simulations. The committee audited and reviewed the results of drills and corrected any issues. All accidents and injuries to staff, students and visitors were reported, and the committee identified the success of preventative measures and opportunities for improvement. PSD also provided on-site registered nurses to serve students and staff members in need of medical atten- tion. Surveys of both parents and staff measured their satisfaction with campus safety, and identified issues to be addressed by the Safety Committee. 
N.B.: See the BPIR.com website for the full Malcolm Baldrige Award application by Pewaukee School District and other award-winning schools. The BPIR Award Winners Database contains a fully searchable
collection of award application reports, including PowerPoint slides and videos. The information in the database has been provided by exceptional organisations that have been recognised at national business excellence awards events and best practice competitions. For a full list of award winners from around the world, visit our Award Winners Database. Examples of other schools included in the BPIR award list are:
- Curtin University, Australia; New Zealand Best Practice Competition 2013, Leadership vision, values, developing leaders, ethics, governance.
- Global Indian International School, Singapore; 27 international and national awards including the prestigious Golden Peacock Innovative/Product Service Award 2012.
- Raffles Institution, Singapore; Singapore Quality Award 2011.
- Community Consolidated School District 15, United States; Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 2010.
- Montgomery County Public Schools, United States; Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 2010.
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