Montgomery school system wins federal excellence award

By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2010; 8:13 PM

The Montgomery County school system is one of seven recipients of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award, a federal prize administered by the Commerce Department that recognizes companies and organizations for excellence, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced Tuesday.

The school system is one of just six to have won the award since 2001, when the program was expanded to include education. It had focused on businesses since its creation by an act of Congress in 1987. The award recognizes businesses, nonprofit groups and government agencies for excellence in performance, human resources and management.

"They have been able to apply those principles and practices into their entire system and make it work," said Michael Newman, a spokesman for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the branch of the Commerce Department that runs the program.

Montgomery's schools superintendent, Jerry D. Weast, said he was "proud."

"This tells us that we have been deliberately targeting the right things for our students," he said. "This can be done. It's entirely replicable."

The award does not include a cash prize, but President Obama will recognize the recipients at a ceremony next year.

Montgomery applied for the award once previously, in 2005.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company