Description of the need, purpose, and focus of the change initiative
Following the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, there have been increased calls for accountability among educators who provide the educational services for the country's young learners. In response, across the country, a growing number of school districts have implemented school uniforms as part of their larger efforts to improve student discipline and morale as well as better academic outcomes (Walmsley, 2011). For example, one educator emphasizes that, "The presence of school uniforms brings a sense of duty to the students and respect for the school and teachers. School uniforms help students focus on school and not each other's clothes. Because students dress in uniforms, they're reminded that their 'job' is to be a student" (p. 63).
There are some benefits for parents involved in the proposed change initiative as well, including most especially drastically reduced costs for school clothes since young people do not compete with each other and the costs of school uniforms are typically far less expensive than the trendy fashions and accessories that characterize many school districts today. In this regard, Walmsley also emphasizes that, "Because everyone looks basically the same, differences in economic status are not as blatant" (2011, p. 63). Beyond the foregoing several desirable outcomes, studies have also shown that school districts that implement school uniforms as part of their dress codes experience less crime as well (Forcey & Harris, 1999). Taken together, the change initiative envisioned herein represents a "win-win" approach to improving school discipline and academic outcomes, and a vision statement that reflects these goals is set forth below.
Vision statement for the strategic change
The vision statement for the change initiative proposed herein is: "Anytown School District can help its students achieve superior academic outcomes by ensuring that the classroom environment is conducive to learning by establishing a dress code that requires school uniforms to be worn on a regular basis."
Hypothesis of the measures of success using a balanced scorecard framework.
The balanced scorecard approach can be applied in virtually any organizational setting and can measure success by identifying quantifiable metrics that can serve as benchmarks against which further performance is measured to determine the effect of the change initiative (Kaplan & Norton, 1992, 2001). For the dress code change initiative envisioned herein, the measures of success would be defined as:
1. The percentage of students who complied with the mandatory school district dress code; and,
2. The effect that the change initiative has on academic performance levels as measured by the standardized testing regimens used in the Anytown School District.
How the balanced scorecard model can be used to align the organization around this initiative
The balanced scorecard model can help organizations align change initiatives with their organizational goals by implementing performance management and reward systems that are consistent with and help maintain collective action towards the desired outcomes and behaviors (McLean, 2006)
Description of the models, assessments, and interventions that will be used to realize the change
The balanced scorecard combines performance metrics along four perspectives, as follows:
1. Customer Perspective. For the purposes of this change initiative, this metric will be the school district's students. This metric focuses on the external environment to better understand, identify and emphasize student needs; a common measure used for this metric is the level of student satisfaction resulting from the change.
2. Internal Business Processes Perspective. This measure focuses internally along a value chain comprising innovation, operations, and processes. A common measure used for this is efficiency.
3. Learning and Growth Perspective. This measure provides the basis to satisfy the other change initiative objectives; a common measure used for this purpose would be the level of teacher satisfaction with the change initiative with respect to its impact on discipline and the learning environment.
4. Financial Perspective. Finally, this metric would focus on the parents' perceptions of the costs of uniforms compared to conventional school clothes (Moore, Rowe & Widener, 2001).
The general model illustrated in Figure 1 below will be used to assess the progress of the change initiative over time and to identify the need for interventions and other opportunities for improvement.
Figure 1. General Change Initiative Model
Additional components of a strategic game plan needed to realize the change
Communication will be the key to the success of this change to the Anytown School District dress code. It is reasonable to suggest that there will be considerable resistance to the envisioned change initiative from both students and parents, with the former resenting being forced to wear the identical uniforms as their peers and resistance to the additional initial costs that are involved in the transition from the latter since slightly more than half (52%) of the school district's families are low income. Therefore, the positive short- and long-term goals of the change initiative must be communicated to parents and students alike concerning the numerous benefits that can be achieved through a change to school uniforms.
How the new vision for the change will be created
In order to gain maximum momentum, the change initiative will be launched using pep rallies at each school in the district to announce the change and to demonstrate what the new uniforms will look like for students and interested parents. Male and female students will model the new uniforms at these pep rallies and the reasons for the change will be emphasized.
Communications strategies that will be used throughout the change process
Prior to the implementation of the initiative, parents will receive complete information online through the school district's Blackboard system concerning the dates of the change and what uniform components will be required; recommendations for minimum purchases will also be provided as well as retail outlets where these can be obtained.
The "engagement plan" that will ensure the key stakeholder groups' trust and commitment is established and maintained
In order to ensure that all stakeholders are motivated to "buy in" to the dress code change, a contest will be staged between all of the schools in the district to determine which school can achieve full implementation of the new dress code in advance of the mandated date. The school that achieves this transition before any other will be feted with a half-day carnival. Besides the standard "Jupiter jump" and "moon walk" inflatables, the carnival would also include a highly publicized "dunk-tank" featuring the school district president dressed as a clown. Students, parents and teachers would each receive three balls and a chance to dunk the clown. Rides and refreshments would be donated by local businesses and a press release would invite local media to cover the event.
How the change initiative will integrate ethics in the vision, mission, and values of the organization.
The vision statement of Anytown School District requires the district leadership team to identify evidence-based practices that will help students achieve the skill set needed to compete in the 21st century workplace. By eliminating class and potential gang-related distinctions that can be communicated by street clothes in the schools, the envisioned change to the school district dress code integrates ethics into this vision statement and contributes to the overarching mission to deliver high-quality educational services as part of the school district's values.
How the school district can provide a sense of stability needed by human beings while supporting openness to continuous change needed for the success of the organization
One of the harsh realities of the human condition is the inevitability of change, and even the best-intention change initiative will be met with resistance because people must move out of their comfort zone and shift their routines. In this case, this change…