Red Beads and Profound Knowledge: Deming and Quality of Education


  • Sharon Lohr Westat



educational improvement, educational quality, sampling, statistics, systems approach, teacher evaluation


Value-added models are being implemented in many states in an attempt to measure the contributions of individual teachers and schools toward students’ learning. Scores from these models are increasingly used for high-stakes purposes such as setting compensation, hiring or dismissing teachers, awarding tenure, and closing schools. The statistician W. Edwards Deming wrote extensively about improving quality in education and the damage caused by performance rankings. We examine uses and misuses of value-added models in the context of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge, and discuss contributions a Deming-based perspective and statistical science can make to improving education.


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Author Biography

Sharon Lohr, Westat

Sharon Lohr is Vice President at Westat and Professor Emerita of Statistics at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of the book Sampling: Design and Analysis and has published numerous articles on survey sampling, hierarchical models, missing data, design of experiments, and applications of statistics in the social sciences and education. She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, and a recipient of the Gertrude M. Cox Statistics Award and the Morris Hansen Lectureship Award. This paper is based on Dr. Lohr’s 2014 Deming Lecture, which was presented at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Boston.




How to Cite

Lohr, S. (2015). Red Beads and Profound Knowledge: Deming and Quality of Education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 80.