This paper is one of seven in this volume that aims to elaborate different approaches to quality improvement in education. It delineates a methodology called Lean for Education.
The paper presents the origins, theoretical foundations, core concepts and a case study demonstrating an application in US education, specifically dealing with the problem of improving technology supports and services for instructional purposes in a school district system.
An approach borrowed from manufacturing, Lean is aimed at creating and delivering the greatest value to the clients or “customers” in education systems while consuming the fewest resources and eliminating waste. Simultaneously, the method engages the organization in continuous problem solving, learning and making quality improvements with Plan-Do-Check-Act cycles. The core concepts that organize the Lean for Education approach are: continuous improvement and respect for people (Emiliani, 2005).
Few theoretical treatments and demonstration cases are currently available on commonly used models of quality improvement in other fields that might have potential value in improving education systems internationally, such as large grade kindergarten-to-12 education systems in the USA. This paper fills this gap by elucidating one promising approach. The paper also derives value as it permits a comparison of the Lean for Education method with other quality improvement approaches treated in this volume.
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