I recently read Becoming a High Reliability School: The Next Step in School Reform by Robert Marzano (2013).
I have been a fan of RM for most of two decades now. I know of no one who has a better grasp of, and is a more proficient communicator of, the elements that make for highly effective schools.
Some of my biggest takeaways:
- Our highest dreams and most ambitious aspirations are meaningless without a systematic plan and intentional deployment of that plan.
- A nice building-block structure for creating a high reliability school consists of a five-tiered framework: Level 1: Safe and orderly environment. Level 2: An instructional framework. Level 3: A guaranteed and viable curriculum. Level 4: Standards-referenced reporting. Level 5: A competency-based system.
- “Leading Indicators” (actions taken to achieve specific ends) and “Lagging Indicators” (data collection around those specific ends) provide an organized system for planning, then reviewing progress.
My favorite quote:
“Highly effective schools produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of students’ backgrounds.”
Any school leader who is serious about affecting school improvement would do well to read this short book. It is an excellent primer on what to focus on, how to structure a plan for that focus, and how to actually execute the plan.