The American Productivity & Quality Center, a Houston nonprofit group that has begun teaching school districts how businesses learn from one another to boost their performance, has been tapped by Texas to train principals in struggling schools.
With a state grant of $3.3 million, the center is creating a school leadership pilot program that will provide mandatory training to all principals of Texas schools that have been identified as “academically unacceptable.”
Details still are being worked out, but organizers said last week the program will be able to serve as many as 300 principals a year. They will be grouped into cohorts led over 12 months by about 60 mentors, including practicing and retired administrators.
“A mentor will be someone who has experienced the same challenges as the people they’re working with, but who also has experienced success,” said Anne Miller, the director of strategic education initiatives at the APQC.
The training will draw on the APQC’s extensive experience in helping organizations compare their practices with those of better-performing ones, a process called “benchmarking.”
After working primarily with businesses, the 30-year-old group recently started working with school districts to benchmark such activities as transportation and staff training. (“Districts Compare Notes on Best Business Practices,” Jan. 17, 2007.)
Similar to its benchmarking work with districts and businesses, the APQC’s principal-training program will have leaders learn together in a group that includes some who have gotten good results and some who haven’t.
Key topics will be how to lead change and track progress. Much of the work will take place online, thanks to a partnership with the business school at the University of Houston, Victoria, seen as a leader in distance learning.
“We recognize that these principals are getting professional development now, so what we don’t want to be is one more layer of obfuscation,” said C. Jackson Grayson, the founder and chief executive of the APQC. “What we really want to do is blend with what they are doing now.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2007 edition of Education Week