High-reliability schools

A high-reliability school, by definition, monitors the effectiveness of critical factors within the system and immediately takes action to contain the negative effects of any errors that occur. How can you be sure that your school is a high-reliability school?  School effectiveness research paints an optimistic picture of schools’ ability to impact student achievement. In fact, the aggregated research indicates that there are clear, specific, and concrete actions that schools can take to dramatically increase their effectiveness. I just read the book by Marzano and watched the video found here. Level 1-3 are starting points and levels 4-5 are optional but crucial if you want all your students to succeed.

Leading and Lagging Indicators

In order to know what to work on and to measure their success at each level, school leaders need ways to assess their school’s current status, gauge their progress through each level, and confirm successful achievement of each level. Leading and lagging indicators are useful to these ends. The distinction between leading and lagging indicators is this: leading indicators show what a school should work on to achieve a high-reliability level (they provide direction), and lagging indicators are the evidence a school gives to validate its achievement of a high-reliability level (they provide proof), particularly in areas where there is general agreement that the school is not doing well.

Quick data are meant to be used to monitor the pulse of a school regarding a particular level of performance. Therefore, a school should focus its quick data collection on indicators that will best help them monitor fluctuations regarding their performance at a particular level of high-reliability status. There are three types of quick data: (1) quick conversations, (2) quick observations and (3) easy-to-collect quantitative data.

Level 1: Safe and supportive and collaborative Culture

  1. Do teachers collaborate to address curriculum, assessment, instruction and student achievement?
  2. Do all stakeholders have opportunities to participate in and provide feedback about the work of the school?
  3. Are appreciation and support taking place?

Level 2: Effective Teaching in Every Classroom

  1. How is “effective teaching” defined in the school?
  2. How effective is the teaching being done in the school?
  3. What is being done to improve the teaching in the school? Can you say to your teachers that when they start working at your school we can promise that you will get better no matter which level you are at?

Level 3: Guaranteed and Viable curriculum

  1. Is the appropriate amount and set of content being taught?
  2. Are students learning the content? How are we measuring that?
  3. What is being done to help students who aren’t learning the content

Level 4: Standards-Referenced Reporting, growth

  1. How is student growth and achievement being tracked?
  2. What data provide evidence of student growth and achievement?

Level 5: Competency-Based Education

  1. Are students allowed to move at their own pace?
  2. Are students required to master one level of content before moving to the next?
  3. Are systems in place to prevent students from moving too slowly or lagging behind?

Critical Commitments

Level 5
Get rid of time requirements to move through levels of knowledge and adjust the reporting systems accordingly
Level 4
Develop proficiency scales for the essential content. Report status and growth on the report card using proficiency scales
Level 3
Continually monitor the viability of the curriculum. Create a comprehensive vocabulary program. Use direct instruction for knowledge application and metacognitive skills
Level 2
Create an evaluation system whose primary purpose is teacher development
Level 1
Implement the professional learning communities (PLC) process


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