Monday, March 23, 2009

Will God use the Bell Shaped Curve?

I was walking my dogs yesterday and walked past a small community church that asked a question on their sign. Does God grade on a curve?

What if God grades on a curve? Would we still refer to it as the ‘Normal Curve” or perhaps the “Bell Curve.?”
Referring to the picture above (Click to Enlarge) do 70% go to Purgatory, 20% to Heaven and 10% roasting marshmallows with Beelzebub? No wonder they got rid of Limbo, there was no where to put it on the curve.

Is not the real question will God compare (grade) us to others or grade us according to what we did or did not do as an individual? Why should God be any different than anyone else in society where we are always compared to others to see if we measure up or down if you are using a curve? If I use my talents to the best of my ability and only score a "C" on a test should I not get an "A" in class? Should I be penalized for not being given the reasoning ability of another person? This thinking is like saying only those who can run under 11 seconds flat in a 100 meter race get an "A." That is absurd based on the wide range of body types. Is the brain any more different?

In my line of work I always get excuses and reasons from students, teachers, parents and administrators (including myself) to justify why an individual did something wrong.

So maybe that is why when it comes to Religion or God’s Law that I stick to the Ten Commandments. Each one starts out with THOU, not US or YOU or WE…

I will need to own up to what I did wrong and not how it compares to the rest of you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Merit Pay for Teachers - So Self Serving, So Stupid!

Education - qualityg explodes his own Fireworks! "High School State Test Scores Improve for Reading; Lag in Math, Science, Social Studies and Writing" - WRONG AGAIN!

I wrote this post a 1 1/2 years ago when this silly subject was first discussed. It is starting to raise its ugly head again. Below is the headline in The Detroit Free Press newspaper.

3/12/09 - A major push to tie teacher pay in Michigan to student performance is expected in the coming months, with President Barack Obama and his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Education having expressed their support for the once-taboo notion.

This year my fireworks are aimed at the never ending saga of "The Demise of American Management in Education." Schools Apply Bonuses & Incentives To Test Scores

See what our business practices (management) are doing, they are spreading the falsehood to our educational system that money is a motivator and that you can only get good qualified people through extrinsic rewards and bonuses.

This assumes that teachers are not self-motivated and not professional and the reason test scores are low is because they don't make enough money. This is absurd.

They have also transferred the filth that teacher performance will increase if enough money is dangled in front of employees (teachers).

Fundamentally this thinking is dangerous because it will help destroy the reason why schools were created. Any action (i.e., incentive) or rule that takes away the needs from the students to serve something or someone else will result in failure.

We are not serving all our students by implementing limited self-serving actions that can not be substantiated with objective data.

I always thought schools were designed for the benefit of all students, not to create false conveniences that drives a wedge between teachers who are responsible for assuring student education exists "for all pupils."

I just finished reading another article that states where another school system is applying bonuses and incentives to teachers in order to improve test scores and enrollment. This is absurd.

We are taking from our teachers and children the chance to experience "Joy of Learning" (Deming). These types of suggestions are alarming to me because the education system is following the same pattern as big business. Incentives, rewards, etc... are extrinsic that drive the wrong behavior.

First of all there is no "Standardization" ( among our educational system, in fact even with a school district there is no Standardization within their own schools. Here are some examples:

Incentive plans for teachers
Various states and cities have incentive pay plans for teachers.
Texas has the biggest bonus plan in the country, $260 million to give bonuses of $3,000 to $10,000, primarily based on test scores, to teachers in about 1,000 schools with high numbers of low-income students.
Houston approved $14.5 million for bonuses of $3,000 to $10,000 to teachers whose students raise their test scores.
Wisconsin offers a total of $1.8 million in grants to 20 districts that implement an alternative pay system based on several factors, including test scores, and then report on how well it works.
Florida OK'd $147.5 million to give the top 25% of teachers a bonus of 5% of their salary. The plan is primarily based on test scores.
Iowa has been experimenting with pay-for-performance plans since 2000.
The latest plan rewards all the teachers in a building when the school has met several goals, including higher standardized test scores.
That state's Legislature has allocated $24 million to study the costs and results of performance pay.
Rhode Island's budget includes money to study performance pay for teachers.
Minnesota has an $86-million voluntary plan, offering school districts an additional $260 per child if they pay teachers based on whether they meet performance guidelines.
Denver offers $25 million for a variety of performance pay plans both to teachers and school-wide for student achievement. It also offers bonuses for skills and knowledge and for teachers in high-demand subjects like math and science.
North Carolina will give teachers $750 to $1,500 for meeting or exceeding various benchmarks in student performance.
Chattanooga, Tenn., offers a wide variety of incentives, ranging from money to housing, to attract highly qualified teachers.
Sources: The Education Commission of the States and Free Press research

What affect will this have on the If students? Will they come to view learning as a means to get a reward/incentive? Will they will no longer identify learning as something worth doing for the long-term (whole life).?

American Management still believes rewards and incentives are the way to motivate employees to do a better job. At best, rewards will get some temporary reaction, but it does not last, nor does it change behaviors for the long term and it does more harm than good. Same thing will happen in education. Parents & Teachers Union PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!!

It doesn't matter whether or not it is business or education, granting performance for pay takes the employees (teachers) focus off the target/aim of education and puts it on extrinsic rewards that cause jealousy, envy and poor working relations.. We need cooperation before there can be competition.

You are going to use Standardized Tests as a measure? You have got to be kidding. Have you ever heard of variation? Example, a sixth grader finally gets a good score on a standardized test. Do you reward the sixth grade teacher only? What about the 5 previous teachers, does this mean they were all bad, why would they not get a bonus? What if there are 3 sixth grade teachers, do they all get a bonus or just the homeroom teacher?

By What Method will you use the Standardized Tests to score excellence? That is ridiculous, your tests scores do not reflect the overall goal of education and that is to teach children knowledge and skills, not to pass tests that are flawed and biased depending on what school system you live in.

Our current educational system is broken and will continue to get worse with ideas like this coming into education. If you don't believe me study our American Management System.

Question for teachers? When grading papers (not tests) do you say why can't this student understand, or do you ask does the student need extra help or specialized help? Do you ask yourself how to improve your own teaching methods? Do you just say "Oh well?"

Warning for teachers - Have you ever heard of Rating & Ranking (I call them Nasty 1 and Nasty 2)? Read my post @ I'm guessing many of you have in some way from friends and family. Actually you rate and rank students based on test scores (how sad).

What about "Forced Distributions"? This is Nasty 3 and not as well known as Rating (Nasty 1) and Ranking (Nasty 2). Let me tell you what this means, they will eventually put you into groups and sub-groups (? - has anybody in management done a cost-benefit analysis to see how many systems and admin people will have to be hired to make sense of all this).

What happens next is if your group (high test scores and attendance) you will get a percentage raise (big, big mistake) or a bonus? What if one group only has higher attendance, they will also get an increase but not as much as group 1.

You see consultants and higher education types will convince your senior management that you must have a bell shaped curve. This way some of you are winners and some of you are losers. It all depends on variation (special or common, I know, I know, what is this?).

So next year, knowing your that Johnny's little brother will be in your grade do you just roll the dice or do you say no way because Johnny missed 12 days of school because his Dad overslept and he missed the bus?

What about Jenny's little sister who is also moving into your grade and the mother wants you again for her teacher. Problem is you know from the little sister's teacher that she scored so low on the state tests that she was one of the big reason she did not get a raise.

Think about these basic scenarios - PLEASE!

AFT and other teacher unions do not be like the UAW and wait for things to happen and then scream and cry to your membership. Plan and be preventive.

Be a Voice and Not an Echo!

Other Educational posts by qualityg:

Can be found by clicking on the label "Education" at the bottom of this post or on the left hand side of the Blog.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Company Principles for 2010 and Beyond

The way the economy is going and the fall of some of the leading companies in the world what will help get us back on track? I believe a good start would be with the "Principles" or the foundation blocks that have been destroyed with short-term goals and thinking.

What follows are some basic Principles that each senior leader should revisit and implement:

A company principle is a fundamental belief that is focused on the continual performance improvement of our services and products through addressing the needs of our customers, employees and stakeholders. The principles are as follows:

Customer-Focused – we must consider our customers’ current and future needs, fulfill customer requirements, and strive to exceed their expectations while keeping corporate strategies in our sights.

Read -

Management Owns Our System and will establish constancy of purpose and direction for the group. They also create an environment in which all employees can be involved in obtaining company objectives.

Employees as People – our team approach is the essence of who we are and what we stand for. We need to listen and support each team member and to encourage each person to express their innovations and creativity.

Process Approach – by using a process approach to managing resources our activities will produce the desired results. When activities our work activities are linked together there is a structure for effectively managing and improving.

Systemic Thinking – company efficiency and effectiveness will be improved by identifying, understanding, and managing a system of interdependent processes that results in improving the whole not just the parts of any situation.

Continual Improvement – our company must have continual improvement as a permanent objective. Our premise will be to follow our Quality for Process Improvement. We must never settle for the status quo. Challenge Conventional Thinking!

Management by Fact – each of us needs to manage our work by collecting and analyzing objective data and information in order to make effective decisions that are certified by sound financial bottom line results. Avoid Short-Term Goals and People with short memories who are looking for the quick ride to the top at your expense.

Supplier Relationships – by working and partnering with our suppliers and contractors we will develop mutually beneficial, interdependent relations that will create a win-win situation for all involved. Perhaps looking a a single suppliership is required.

Developed by qualityg

also see Leadership Characteristics at

and Business Plan Objectives and Goals at

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Why I Still Like Girls Basketball - (Updated 3/7/09) - Season Over

Welcome to Season Three - "94 Feet To Glory"

July 14, 2008 - Season Three

The 2008/2009 season started back up last Monday and Thursday of this past week with our summer practices before we go to camp. We had the July 4th week as our down week as required by state rules. I have also started up Sunday night shooting.

In-between practices several of the players have been getting together for conditioning workouts. What is especially gratifying is all our seniors have been there to show the younger players their commitment to the team.

After August 1st we will move in to our 3 player and coaches workouts (including shooting). This is a great time to work and evaluate players for the upcoming season. We had great success with this last year and it will be even more valuable this year because of the size of our team. We will be more athletic which means we will need to become much quicker and stronger. It will be very difficult to make up for the size and skill we lost from last year but we will make up it up with

"94 Feet to Glory."

We will be playing baseline-to-baseline offense and defense, which requires we have a rotation of 8 or 9 players who are in shape and can shoot "accurately" on a dime. More importantly it means conditioning will be a major factor for those who want to play both ends of the floor. In your shirt defense is the standard for all five players on the court.

Shooting accurately and quickly is a must if we are to be competitive in every game.

We are very excited about our returning players because they realize they need to step up this year. Each of them has the ability to get ample playing time if they work on their conditioning and skills (not just at practice).

Being in game shape requires more strength and conditioning than just running so we will be adding additional strength and conditioning to our workouts starting August 1st and for the remainder of the season.

Next – A New Team & A New Camp

July 24, 2008
Camp was very interesting this year. Our lack of size was very apparent but our effort made up for our lack of height. Varsity and JV each played 10 games in 2 ½ days and it was very hot and muggy in the gym.

Both the JV and Varsity had ups and downs as far as playing well together but that is what can be expected when you have a young team and limited practice before going to camp.

Both the JV and Varsity Coaches were very pleased with the overall results and the Varsity coach was able to find some players that may have a chance to make Varsity.

The best part of the camp for me is being able to watch and learn from our coaches and to see the interactions that take place as the chemistry of a team comes together.

I also like to watch the players on defense and that there conditioning they have been doing on their own really paid off at the camp.

The worst part of the camp was the injuries we sustained during the camp, some minor (Blisters) and a few major (Dislocated knee, ankle break) injuries.

Next – Three with Two

Updated 10/03/08

Our 3 player workouts which we began last year with the season change has again proved worthy of the time and effort that goes in to each one twice a week. We have also been3 player shooting on Sunday nights that continues to show promise as each of our players are becoming well-tuned shooters.

One new aspect of this year’s planning has been our 15-minute weight lifting program that is at the end of each player’s workout.

The players are also working on their conditioning two times a week running and exercising. They know the importance of our new system and they know that hard work and no let up attitude will amount for playing time. They are like young colts waiting for their first race. They see the improvements they have made and would work out every day if time and space allowed it to happen.

This season will be one of changes and special situations based on the talent and characteristics of our team. Coach is building a team unlike those of the past. Not necessarily for change itself but because in order for us to be successful this year and in the upcoming years we must be ready for “94 Feet of Glory.”

"94 Feet of Glory" is based on Defense and our ability to disrupt the guards on the opposing team they will be screaming for their Momma’s to pull them out of the game. We have four “Mighty Mites” that are going to make life miserable for opposing players up and down the court. This does not leave our other players with less responsibility, in fact the pressure is on them to make steals and know what “Anticipation” really means.

Updated November 9th, 2008

The girls have been chomping at the bit to be able to hit the floor with a basketball with more than three girls allowed on the court at the same time. I would relate this to football when it’s time to put on the pads and start hitting and blocking people. Tomorrow tryouts begin and the coaches are eagerly waiting to see how our off season workouts and conditioning have paid off. We are really proud of the girls because they did not have to be prompted to push themselves without a coach. This team is extremely proud and knows this a much different team than the one who went to the state final four last year.

Coaching will also have to be different this year. A good leader whether it is in business, education or sports knows that to get the best out of each player so that it forms in to one complete unit is to be a situational leader.

Coaches must be patient and consistent this year. Emphasizing a certain method and then abandoning it when things get tough or to win one (piece) game but sacrifice the season (whole) will be a constant task. I believe the coaches and the players we have will rise to the occasion when called upon to do their job.

There is little room for error this year and defense is a must, not just good defense, but defense like no other team at this school has ever seen.

Updated 12/1/08

"I am only one, but I am one I can't do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, that I ought to do. And what I ought to do By the grace of God, I shall do."

- Edward Everett Hale

Updated 12/11/08

Two Games Played

We won our first game of the year by playing good defense and hitting some key shots. The one area we must improve on is balancing our outside shooting with passes to our Bigs and guards penetrating as far as they are allowed and then pitch out to the wings for better shots.

Our second game we played hard in spots but we were not able to handle the Bigs form our opponents, especially as our two Bigs sat on the bench with 1st Quarter foul trouble. Much was learned from this game by both players and coaches.

This week has been spent scouting a number of our future opponents. It’s going to be very easy to determine the outcomes. If we play “Defense” at 100% we will win. If we lose sight of the ball and the man after our person passes the ball we will lose.

End of Story

Updated 12/28/08

So far this season has been one of difference. While we are in the midst of changing coaching styles and team chemistry it still comes down to the basics. More commonly known in Football as “Tackling and Blocking.” If I can’t add or subtract it is useless to go on to multiplication and division tables. These terms are called “Fundamentals.”

The Varsity team is 1-3 after a loss last night. Big Loss, Big Crowd and Big Questions.

When you have a small team like we do this year Fundamentals are the difference between winning and losing. Coach has told the girls repeatedly that our margin for error is slim if we want to win games. That margin can only be made up with Fundamentals.

Like Football he same can be said in Basketball. If we can’t dribble, pass, defend or box out nothing else can be improved upon. And, as the coach says, “If one player does not run the play correctly then it will fail, it takes all of us to work in unison.” The same can be said for playing defense.

It is not about doing fundamentals right, it’s about doing the right fundamentals right.

So what do we do when there are big gaps between levels of player’s fundamentals? Aggh that is the beauty of coaching, making decisions at the right time for the right reasons.

It all depends on the situation you are in and knowing your players strengths and weaknesses. When you are being pressed you must not have poor dribblers and passers on the floor. Above all you must not have players who shy away and do not want the ball by playing close to their defender as to look if they are covered.

Coaches like Business Managers own the system. The players and the employees who play and work for us can only succeed if the environment by which we place them is conducive to their talents and skills. None of our players goes to practice each day hoping to screw up or make a mistake.

We must know what situations are right for players to be on the floor and which are not. Sometimes it may be a small line up and sometimes a big line up. Knowing when is vital, and that is a coach’s job not players, so it is are fault if we make the wrong decisions not the players because we put them in a situation to fail.

So what do we do when we don’t have five skilled players to put on the floor? We simplify our offense and defense until we do and we play the best we can and have fun knowing we did the best with what we got. Are we satisfied? You are not a coach if you answered yes, but we must also understand it is our system and the whole must improve not just each player or each level.

Updated 1/13/09

We are still struggling in a number of fundamental areas but we are showing improvement in others each game. Our record is now 2-5 with a win last Saturday on a very cold snowy winter afternoon.
I have said since the beginning of the season that I believe this is a March Team. Which means it is going to take us all season and hopefully be ready for a run in the State Tournament.

Our league seems to be very balanced this year with everyone getting beat by someone. Just goes to show you that Basketball is a game of match-ups. Unfortunately, because of our size this is a very tough match-up for us in most of our games so far.

We are expecting more snow and sub zero temperatures this week. However, our play must continue to stay warm.

Updated 2/15/09

No, the update date is not an error. I have not posted in over a month. No excuses I just have not had anything to write.

Our record currently stands at 5 Wins and 11 Losses. I have played on losing teams but I have never coached one. In losing I mean the record not the the players.

Our team is like playing a round of golf. Sometimes my long shots are good but my putting is bad. Sometimes putting is good but my approach shots suck. You know the feeling it just does not seem to want to come together at the same time.

While some have said we are undersized and lost all our talent from the previous year these are not excuses the coaches will put forth as reasons. Defense requires all out effort and we have not done that consistently in a game for the whole season. If you play good defense you can stay in a game and hope at the end some breaks will go your way. However, first you have to stay in a game.

We did not defend our Catholic League Title nor our Divisional Title. We have one goal we still shoot for and that is to get ready for the State Tournament that starts 3/2/09. We still have four games to play but our effort will be towards winning our District.

Our team is like Notre Dame. Teams don't want to beat us they want to kick our ass and many of the girls on the team don't understand what it means to always play with defensive effort.

Updated 2/22/09
One of the highlights of each year "Poster Night." After the game (We Won) tables are set up and all the players and coaches sit around them and sign the poster of the players for 2009. The first 100 school children get free posters and they are allowed in the game free.

We have three games this week and next Monday the State Tournament begins which we hope to play in three more games in our District. I have said all year that I believe this year's team is a March team and now we will see if I am correct.

Update 3/1/09

We have won our last 4 games including 3 this past week. All 4 of the teams won their leagues so it nice to close the regular season on a high note. Last Thursday was a big victory but last night (Saturday) was very satisfying because we had a 1 1/2 drive home and the bus was filled with harmony (much singing), pizza and just happy feelings.

As coach said "We go as Turnovers go." Of course those words are not new to a basketball team but for this team it is the ultimate truth, even more than our lack of size.

I'm so happy for the seniors and this week we start our District games. Hopefully there will be 3 games this week with the last one on Friday being the crown jewel. against our rivalsNo one likes to look ahead but I want Friday Night so bad and does the team.

Updated 3/7/09

We took a six game winning streak in to the District Title game but the season ended last night with a well played game by both teams. We led for three quarters but lost the 4th big with defensive breakdowns that have plagued us all year.

It's always sad to say good bye to the seniors but this team has laid a solid foundation for us to be better next year.

Thanks for reading and I'll start writing again in July when we leave for camp.