A high reliability school is a school that takes proactive steps to prevent failure and ensure success. The Marzano High Reliability Schools™ model developed at Marzano Research begins with an organization of factors that correlate with student achievement in a hierarchy of five levels:
- Safe and Collaborative Culture
- Effective Teaching in Every Classroom
- Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
- Standards-Referenced Reporting
- Competency-Based Education
To be certified at any given level, schools must assess their current status, identify improvement areas, implement initiatives or activities to address those areas, and collect data to confirm that their efforts are producing the desired effects. What distinguishes this “high reliability” approach to school reform is that it focuses on ensuring that initiatives at each level are having a positive impact on student outcomes.
To achieve level 1, schools implement professional learning communities to ensure a safe and collaborative environment. For level 2, schools implement or create a teacher evaluation system focused on teacher development. To ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum at level 3, schools monitor the curriculum and implement programs of direct instruction in vocabulary, knowledge application, and metacognitive skills. Schools working on level 4 can develop proficiency scales for essential content and to report students’ status and growth. Finally, to achieve level 5, schools replace time requirements to move through levels of knowledge with competency or mastery requirements.
Robert J. Marzano, PhD, is cofounder and chief academic officer of Marzano Research in Denver, Colorado. A leading researcher in education, he is a speaker, trainer, and author of more than 50 books and 200 articles.
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