Quality Management Systems and Vocational Education Assessment

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Quality Management Systems and Vocational Education Assessment

Quality management systems such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality Control (QC), and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 focus on the continuous improvement of products and services, customer satisfaction, and participatory manage-ment. Although much has been written about quality management systems and their application in business, industry, and (more recently) education, little connection has been made between these systems and educational assessment. This paper explores the three most prestigious awards recognizing quality improvement in business and industry and describes how the criteria for business and industry assessments of quality
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In 1987, the ISO published a series of global quality system standards called ISO 9000, which are designed to improve productivity and reduce costs in the marketplace. "The ISO 9000 series intends to stimulate trade by providing third-party assurance of an organization's ability to meet specifications and perform negotiated standards" (ibid., p. 65). The focus of ISO 9000 is on the organization's quality system--its design, development, production, and servicing capacities, not on product quality. ISO 9000 Registration attests that a company has a "documented quality system that is full deployed and consistently followed" (ibid.).

Vocational Education Assessment

The reception of any one of these quality awards hinges upon the positive assessment of a company's quality operations and achievement of continuous improvement, which results in a certification of excellence. In vocational education, assessment is also a way of determining how and to what extent quality improvement systems are changing educational practices and outcomes. Skill standards describe the essential knowledge, skills, and behaviors critical to an occupational area; assessments measure the achievement of those standards; and certifications result in credentials that state the standards that have been achieved.

When comparing the standards for the quality management systems awards to

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