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Leading a High Reliability School

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How do educators build High Reliability Schools (HRS) and boost academic achievement? By implementing interdependent systems of operation and performance assessment for student-centered learning. A critical commitment to becoming an HRS is the PLC at Work™ process of collaborative learning and teaching. This user-friendly teaching resource focuses on: (1) a safe and collaborative culture, (2) effective teaching in every classroom, (3) a guaranteed and viable curriculum, (4) standards-referenced reporting of student progress (standards-based grading), and (5) a competency-based system.

Marzano, Warrick, Rains, and DuFour will help you:

  • Increase school effectiveness through a focus on student-centered learning and the implementation of research-based leading indicators of operation.
  • Monitor effective practices through the use of lagging indicators and quick data sources.
  • Explore the three big ideas associated with the PLC at Work™ process to implement student-centered learning, collaborative teaching strategies, and data-driven instruction.
  • Engage in periodic reflection on effective school leadership and instructional coaching practices.
  • Understand how to balance and achieve school and district goals using data to improve students' academic achievement and college- and career-readiness skills.

Contents:
Foreword
Introduction
Chapter 1: High Reliability Organizations and School Leadership
Chapter 2: Safe and Collaborative Culture
Chapter 3: Effective Teaching in Every Classroom
Chapter 4: Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
Chapter 5: Standards-Referenced Reporting
Chapter 6: Competency-Based Education
Chapter 7: District Leadership in High Reliability Schools
Appendix
References and Resources
Index

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Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

High Reliability Organizations and School Leadership

R

ick DuFour’s introduction provides the context for schools that seek high reliability status using the PLC process as a foundation. Without a doubt, the PLC process, particularly as articulated by Rick and his colleagues, brings the vision of a true high reliability school within our grasp.

It is important to remember that the PLC process and the HRS model developed independently of one another. The PLC process has its roots in the literature on professional collaboration (Rosenholtz, 1991) as well as reflective practice (Schön,

1983; Stenhouse, 1975). The term professional learning community became popular in education in the 1990s (Cuban, 1992; Hord, 1997; Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996;

McLaughlin, 1993). These early discussions noted it was the work of Rick DuFour and his colleagues that solidified the nature and importance of the PLC process in

K–12 education (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008; DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, &

 

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Safe, Supportive, and Collaborative Culture

I

n the introduction to this book, Rick explained that a collaborative culture is one of the three big ideas underlying the PLC process. He further explained that collaborative teams whose members take collective responsibility for the learning of all students must be “tight” if the PLC process is to flourish. These are some obvious reasons why level 1 of the HRS model focuses on culture.

One might describe an organization’s culture as the shared beliefs of the individuals who populate the organization and the shared social behaviors and norms those individuals adhere to. Shared beliefs form the basis for most decisions made in an organization. If administrators, teachers, and staff all believe that schools should function to enhance the lives of all students, then they will make decisions about resources, programs, and policies in a manner consistent with that belief. Shared social behaviors and norms are de facto rules of conduct that people tend to conform to whether those behaviors and norms are implicit or explicit. For example, if a school accepts the social behavior that students refer to teachers by their first names, then, over time, people tend to gravitate to this convention.

 

Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Effective Teaching in Every Classroom

L

evel 2 of the HRS model focuses on effective teaching in every classroom. This, of course, aligns directly with question 5 of the six critical questions Rick described in the introductory chapter: How will we increase our instructional competence?

A number of high visibility studies have demonstrated the impact a teacher has on students’ learning and, by inference, the importance of helping teachers continuously improve their instructional prowess. For example, in the late 1990s, S. Paul

Wright, Sandra Horn, and William Sanders (1997) conducted a study that involved the achievement of some sixty thousand students across grades 3 and 5. In the study,

Wright et al. (1997) conclude:

The most important factor affecting student learning is the teacher. In addition, the results show wide variation in effectiveness among teachers. The immediate and clear implication of this finding is that seemingly more can be done to improve education by improving the effectiveness of teachers than by any other single factor. (p. 63)

 

Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum

L

evel 3 of the HRS model is directly aligned with the first of the six critical questions Rick described in the introductory chapter: What is it we want students to learn? To answer this question precisely and efficiently, a school must develop a guaranteed and viable curriculum.

Marzano (2003) first coined the term guaranteed and viable curriculum in the book

What Works in Schools. This term refers to a very simple but powerful construct. No matter who teaches a specific course or specific content at a certain grade level in a school, students should have the opportunity to learn the same content. Stated negatively, it should not be the case that students receive one curriculum for fifth-grade science from one teacher and quite another curriculum from that teacher’s colleague across the hall. This represents the guaranteed aspect of level 3 in the HRS model.

Additionally, teachers should have adequate time and resources to teach what’s guaranteed. Again, stated negatively, there should not be so much guaranteed content that it makes it impossible for teachers to address it effectively. At level 3, an HRS ensures a lean and focused curriculum that addresses all essentials.

 

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Standards-Referenced Reporting

L

evels 1–3 of the HRS model are part and parcel of the work in which all schools must engage. In effect, the leading indicators for levels 1, 2, and 3 represent those things every school must continuously attend to if it aspires to function effectively.

Levels 4 and 5 of the HRS model represent systems changes. The major change at level 4 has schools shift from a whole-school perspective to an individual student perspective. Whereas certainly some attention to individual students occurs at levels 1, 2, and 3, at level 4, the individual student is the focus of data collection and reporting.

Level 4 of the HRS model directly addresses question 2 of the six critical questions

Rick described in the introduction: How will we know if students are learning? It also addresses question 3: How will we respond when students don’t learn? As mentioned previously, HRS level 4 answers these questions with a focus on individual students. It does so through standards-referenced reporting.

 

Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Competency-Based Education

L

evel 5 of the HRS model directly addresses question 4 of the six critical questions: How will we extend learning for students who are highly proficient? We think of level 5 of the HRS model as pure standards-based grading. Although this level has similarities to level 4, some distinct differences require specific leadership action for the transition to level 5.

By its very nature, level 5 provides the highest level of reliability for student learning. In level 4, standards-referenced reporting, a student moves to the next grade level or course based on time, usually when a semester or school year ends. In a standards-referenced system, students can move to the next grade level even if they have not demonstrated proficiency in all the priority standards at their current grade level. With level 5, however, that is not the case. In level 5, a competency-based system, students progress to the next grade level only after they have demonstrated proficiency in all the priority standards at their current grade level. In a standardsreferenced system, students do not work on content above their grade level. In a competency-based system, students can work on any level of content for which they are ready. This means some students may progress faster than their peers.

 

Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

District Leadership in

High Reliability Schools

A

lthough the HRS model is designed as a school-level framework, as shown in chapters 2–6, it can become even more powerful when an entire school district decides to embark on becoming highly reliable. By inference, the same holds true for the PLC process. If district leadership sets its sights on all of its schools operating as high reliability organizations, then it should adhere to the general principles of the PLC process by continually asking the six critical questions, with a few wording changes to reflect the expanded perspective.

As a district:

1. What is it we want students to learn?

2. How will we know if students are learning?

3. How will we respond when students don’t learn?

4. How will we extend learning for students who are highly proficient?

5. How will we increase our instructional competence?

6. How will we coordinate our efforts?

We assert that using the five levels of the HRS model is, in fact, the answer to the sixth question. In order to maximize progress in the HRS model, and in turn generate higher levels of student learning, those who work at the district level must make intentional work of balancing districtwide goals and priorities with building-level autonomy. This balance is crucial for a couple of reasons.

 

Appendix

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Appendix

Principal Collaborative Team

Agenda From Clark-Pleasant

Community School Corporation

Priorities for the Year 2016–2017

• Twenty-first century skills

• Student goal setting, planning, and progress tracking

• Proficiency scale development

• Technology use to enhance instruction and electronically deliver parts of lessons to students

Collaborative Team Meeting Norms

• Begin the meeting by adding parking-lot items to discuss after the collaborative meeting ends.

• Begin on time.

• Discuss as a group if extended time is needed.

• Keep conversations confidential unless you seek permission to share.

• Stay fully present.

• Take care of yourself and others.

• Every voice is equal in the conversation, and everyone participates.

• Be nice.

• Hold each other accountable to norms.

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LEADING A HIGH RELIABILITY SCHOOL

8:00–8:05 a.m. Norms Review

 

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