Balanced Scorecard Success Story | Fulton County Schools, Atlanta
Like the Fulton County School system, learn how you can turn your own organization into a success story by taking a leaf out of the most successful companies’ book and implement the Balanced Scorecard to boost performance while keeping costs down.
Faced with the enormous challenge of having to orchestrate 83 schools, 9 500 employees and 73 000 students, more than half of which are from multiracial backgrounds, the Fulton County School system opted for the adoption of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) in 2000.
Prior to its implementation, the system’s priorities were determined as the sum of the each school’s main concerns. However, these often lacked concise measures or goals and were, therefore, difficult to manage.
It was then when, Martha Taylor Greenway, the school system’s Chief Planning and Communications Officer, suggested the BSC as a way to link the county’s vision to operational, day-to-day indicators. To develop its BSC, the school system’s administrative cabinet (the school superintendent and division managers) framed five strategic themes: Student Achievement, Customer and Stakeholder Involvement and Satisfaction, Efficient and Effective Instructional and Administrative Processes, Staff Learning and Growth and Financial Performance.
These were then communicated to school principals, who received a presentation deck and a script so they could explain the program effectively to teachers, staff and interested parents. They in turn (with the help of their staff and advisory committee) designed their own school’s individual goals in tune with the system-wide themes.
Each school was free to tailor the BSC according to their specific needs. For example, one school decided to cascade its BSC by grade-level, ensuring that each grade received a thorough analysis and enabling teachers and directors to follow their performance, even as students passed from one grade to another. This could also alert teachers about their students’ performance as the year progressed, allowing them to take corrective measures at appropriate times.
The BSC does not only serve as a way to measure teachers’ performance. Support staffs like bus drivers and cafeteria personnel also have performance indicators that gauge the quality of the services they offer students. For instance, bus drivers get measured on their punctuality and accident-prevention rates, while the cafeteria personnel’s metrics assess how many meals it serves per hour and how many students are eating their food.
Doing more with less
Implementing the BSC has helped the school system become more efficient in their administrative processes, allowing them to build new schools on time and within budget. This has also earned them a higher credibility amidst society. When in 2002 a new sales tax was proposed, where additional revenue would be destined for new school construction, the business community was, surprisingly, one of the strongest advocates for the tax increase.
The BSC has also come in handy when deciding what programs to fund and which ones to eliminate. For example, since afterschool activities have proven to increase academic performance, they have their own category on the scorecard and the school board continues to fund special afternoon busses to get students home from their activities.
Far from considering the BSC as a one-time project, the school system considers it as a work-in-process. They are already considering building regional scorecards that will comprise high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools. This would allow educators to create powerful synergies as students advance from school to school.
In basing their decision-making process on the BSC, the Fulton County School system can make informed choices on where to invest based on what has the highest potential for positively affecting student achievement and areas of opportunity. Therefore, they make sure to invest wisely and focus on what really matters – the students.
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Author: Trissa Strategy Consulting
Source: The Palladium Group