Active Involvement School administrators, teachers, sponsors, parents, and the students themselves work together on teams that are empowered to make decisions and implement change. This system does not mean that Koalaty Kid gives away the authority to run the schools. Rather, it means that everyone who is ultimately affected by a school has an opportunity to influence its success. Together, they represent a larger resource than the school’s paid stuff. And because they represent all constituencies, they can often create change more swiftly and lastingly. Teams might manage some of the school’s leadership and the teams themselves to decide how they can best work toward achieving the school’s goals.
Outside sponsoring organizations are vitally important to the success of Koalaty Kid schools. These businesses, institutions, community organizations, or ASQ sections participate on the school-based team. They may help the school in a variety of ways, depending on their own capabilities and the school’s needs. Some provide funds for quality training, while others become a source of help for important school activities, expertise in troubleshooting quality processes, or enrichment for academic areas. Most important, their perspective as future employers or community representatives with a stake in the school’s “output” helps to bring the school and its community closer together.
Parent involvement is critical to the success of Koalaty Kid schools. Parents work closely with their own children, monitoring homework assignment, reading aloud, identifying trouble spots, and communicating with students, teachers, and administrators about factors that affect their children’s success. In addition, they often serve as the core of the school’s volunteer base. As volunteers, they may help the one-on-one tutoring, raising funds for needed equipment, and participating actively in decision making on the school’s teams.
Committed Leadership Schools can change only if their designated leaders are committed to improvement. Change occurs quickly if these administrators are also capable of inspiring the faculty, students, parents, sponsors, and other administrators to work with them. Because of their positions, these individuals can allocate resources, call meetings, and generally “make things happen.” However, leadership from others can also be effective, provided it is accepted and endorsed by those with ultimate decision-making authority. Leaders inspire others in the school community to persuade others also comes from articulating their own clear understanding of where they are headed and the process they will use to get there. They constantly listen to learn, and they draw others with skill and ideas into the process. School leaders often find that undertaking the Koalaty Kid process inspires them to new levels of their own professional growth and a more profound understanding of the own roles as leaders.
A System for Continuous Improvement Koalaty Kid uses total quality principles- establishing consistent standards of excellence, setting and communicating clear expectations, continuous improvement (as opposed to finding fault and blaming), looking at a work task as a process, measuring results, and recognizing and rewarding success-for bringing about change. Using a set of quality “tools,” teams define a system, assess a situation, analyze causes, try out improvement theories, study results, standardize improvement, and plan continuous improvement.
Environment That Celebrated Successes Even though many schools are now using team-based management or employing total quality, the fourth distinguishing feature of Koalaty Kid schools is the excitement that permeates the school environment. This excitement is focused on celebrating student successes, large and small. Displays of papers that meet or exceed requirements, photos of students recognized for exemplary behavior, and rosters of students achievements adorn classroom bulletin boards and school hallways. At assemblies and prep rallies, students cheer for one another’s accomplishments as they are recognized. In hundreds of ways, the teachers, staff, volunteers, and parents communicate their delight when students reach goals.
Among the success stories that have resulted from Koalay Kid are Kingsley Elementary, a Sullivan County, Tennessee, Title 1 school, which has made a 58 percent gain in student writing performance over two years to the annual state mandated writing test administered every spring. In developing a process to improve writing, two tools, The Kingsley Koalaty Kid steering team, with representation from each grade level, developed and implemented regular writing practice prompts using special improvement tools. These were used every week in the 2001-02 school year, and every other week in the 2002-03 school year throuhout all classes. In addition, Kingsley students began charting their individual grades, which is a significant step toward students taking responsibility for their own learning. Students are recognized for writing accomplishments during school announcements, by the school Koalaty Kid Express, and twice during school assemblies. Teachers select students to recieve recognition certificates for either writing excellence or writing improvement, and are congratualted by their ASQ Koalaty Kid mascot and business partner representative.