THESE ARE MY NOTES FROM DR. ROBERT MARZANO’S PRESENTATION AT LEADERSHIP ’07 IN OKLAHOMA CITY ON 10 JULY 2007. MY COMMENTS / REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Now work at McRel in Aurora and live in Denver

I will be very concrete in this presentation, nothing really inspirational
– story about being in a family of 4

I’m going to try and convert research and theory into practice, make it very practical
– research in the social sciences is just use of mathematical equations
– George Box: All models are false, but some are useful
– all research is false, but some is useful
– it is an attempt to model and come up with some generalizations

Three critical interventions for District and School Improvement
– when we looked with impact of
– strong leadership at the school level makes a big difference
– we thought it was superintendent leadership
– also a relationship between superintendent leadership and student achievement

Tentative findings reading
– teacher – school – district – student
– P50 (percentile 50 for expected or predicted student achievement)
– pedagogical effectiveness of all teachers across the nation makes a “normal” distribution
– move the teacher up one std dev: student goes P50 to P60
– move the teacher up two standard deviations to P98, student achievement goes to P70

Why isn’t it practical to hire all 98 percentile teachers?
– there is a lot of turnover
– even if you hire the best college grads you can’t do that if you believe the Erickson research
– Erickson research: it takes at least 10 years to become an “expert” at something including teaching

MY QUESTION: HOW ARE THEY MEASURING “LEADERSHIP” AT THE SCHOOL AND DISTRICT LEVEL HERE
– THAT IS NOT EVEN BEING ADDRESSED, IT IS JUST BEING ASSUMED THAT WE ARE MEASURING THAT AND THESE ARE THE NUMBERS

You get a substantial rise in student achievement if you boost the percentage of leadership at the school and district level

Turn to someone and respond to that

The action is at the classroom level with the teacher

Here’s the key: what the administrative leaders do HAVE to impact instruction in the classroom

Some people are looking at the same research

EdWeek editorial: says research will never impact student achievement in this country because it is not made practical enough
– that is the opposite of my view
– we take research findings very lightly in most cases in education, this is very different from how other professionals in other fields take research

some people are looking at this same body of research I’m looking at and concluding opposite things

variance is a funny number, it is squared and really sort of meaningless in the real world

THIS IS A PRESENTATION ABOUT SOMWHAT HIGH LEVEL UNDERSTANDINGS OF QUANTIATIVE STATISTICS. IS EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE ON THE SAME PAGE ABOUT WHAT ALL THESE STATISTICAL TERMS MEAN AND HOW THEY SHOULD BE USED. I DOUBT IT.

Rosnow and Rosenthal 1989 study found that aspirin accounts for about .2% (2/1000) of variance in Heart Attacks (r=.034)
– this was a small finding but in the medical community turns into major headlines

IS THAT JUST WHAT THE MEDIA DOES WITH THESE STUDIES OR WHAT THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY THINKS SHOULD BE DONE WITH THESE “NEW” RESULTS? THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE. I’D BE MORE INTERESTED IN HOW SIGNIFICANT MEDICAL EXPERTS THINK THESE RESULTS ARE.

Correlation of about .1 between smoking and lung cancer
– that is just a good probability

My 3 picks: 3 critical interventions
1- A system of individual student feedback on learning goals at the classroom, school and district levels
2- Ensuring effective teaching in every classroom
3- building background knowledge for all students

Each one of these phases takes about a year

NONE OF HIS POWERPOINT SLIDES HAVE ANY GRAPHICS WHAT-SO-EVER. ALL TEXT, YELLOW AND WHITE TEXT ON A BLUE BACKGROUND

Research conclusion: Formative assessment can increase student achievement by 23%
– that means picking individual learning goals at the district or school level and tracking student progress
– example of a selected learning goal: “understand and use decimals and percents”
– teachers and students tracked progress
– you need a form for each student for each learning goal, to note where they are

you could do this next fall if you wanted, and I would just say pick one goal in each content area: Science, Math, Social Studies

We’ve done this K-12 with a rubric-based approach
– kids say: “I see, you want me to get better”
– kids had previously seen school as a series of unrelated activities / assignments / tests
– for the first time many kids (in the rubric based approach) can see a goal line and start to think they can “get there”
– you will see an improvement

this leads to standards-based report cards
– keeping track of specific areas of knowledge and skills for each students
– some schools are doing this but not doing it the right way
– that should be based on formative assessment
– that means you have to ID what you want to teach, and ways to keep track of students over time

IF THIS REALLY IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN SCHOOLS, THEN WHY ARE ALL HOMESCHOOLERS NOT DOING THIS? OR MAYBE THEY ARE?

guidelines:
– pick a few goals
– have really strong rubric for teachers to track progress
– state standards documents have to be modified a little bit to do this (even yours, as good as they are)

We looked at the 180 days of instruction, and found if you were trying to teach all the content in the national standards
– school would have to change from K-12 to K-22
– you have to cut the number of standards or the content within the standards
– you (Oklahoma) are better than many states, but you still need some trimming

I AGREE WITH THIS POINT AND THINK BOB IS RIGHT ON WITH THIS: WE HAVE A CURRICULUM THAT IS A MILE WIDE AND AN INCH DEEP

That was intervention #1

2- Ensuring effective teaching in every classroom

the system itself may not be helping teachers become great
– teaching is one of the most isolated professions out there

most high schools can be characterized as a group of independent consultants unified by a common parking lot
– in small systems that can work well
– the bigger the system is, the more the isolation works against us

the system itself needs to help teachers get better

I SEE BIG CONNECTIONS FOR THIS TO K-12 ONLINE

key is people need feedback along the way

feedback is something in k-12 education we stay away from like the plague (this is my strict opinion based on observation)
– teachers usually seem to say: if you give me feedback it had better be good, otherwise you are giving me fighting words
we have to create a culture of feedback, where teachers seek out their weaknesses, realize it is ok to not be an expert on everything
outside of education many people seek feedback and even pay for it

story of me trying to learn to ski at age 50
– finally my wife convinced me to take a lesson
– story of the skiing lesson: a culture of feedback

negative feedback seems to be something we avoid like the plague

I believe you need to go through a series of phases
1- readiness phase: teachers read books, attend professional development activities, and try strategies on their own

discuss this with each other

Phase 1: the school/district develops a common “lanugage of instruction” or model
– it must be written, otherwise when the person/model leaves the reform ends
– example: Madelaine Hunter lesson design (she is a hero of mine, no one has done more good for the classroom teacher than her)
– when I met her years ago she was heartbroken that her model was being implemented and used in ways she did NOT intend (every lesson was not supposed to follow that design)
YET THAT IS THE WAY WE TEND TO IMPLEMENT EDUCATIONAL REFORM IDEAS: IN STANDARDIZED, ACROSS-THE-BOARD WAYS

Story of the principal walking out with
– “the tiger is in the jungle” was on the note the teachers sent to each other

Another teacher told a story about a district which actually “timed the steps” of the Madelaine Hunter lesson plan format
– she said instead of focusing on the lesson, if she could do it again she would focus more on the unit level and the framework / questions teachers should ask each other when they design lessons

Phase 2: Teachers systematically interact about effective teaching using the model
– many people will say here we don’t have enough resources for this
– lots of research now coming out about “time”
– recent report conclusion: teachers in Japan and Germany are in the classroom more than U.S. teachers, but even given that they just teach half the time ours do
– what are those Japanese and German teachers doing? All these things we’re talking about that we expect teachers to do on their own time (planning and professional growth)

we HAVE to find time for teachers
– teachers say often they are not against a change, but they are against yet ANOTHER thing to do

discussion time on this [BOB GAVE THE AUDIENCE 10 SECONDS TO DISCUSS]

story of a school that encouraged teachers to keep written reflections/responses to new instructional strategies they tried
– had monthly reflective practice meetings, where a dialog got started
– we upped the ante and expected teachers to try new things and discuss it with others

Phase 3: Teachers systematically observe master teachers and each other using the model

having teachers share their craft with others
– excellent teachers at questioning strategies, sharing their methods with other teachers

Phase 4: the school/district monitors the effectiveness of individual teacher’s instructional styles as a form of teacher feedback

one characteristic of burnout: when people are not getting better at what they do
– teaching is one of the most complex things we look at

discuss time (15 seconds)

3- building background knowledge for all students
– this is the most concrete one
– theory behind this: what you already know about a subject area is one of the best predictors of what you will learn about that subject
– the ability to acquire background knowledge is strongly correlated ability to store and process info as you go through life
– based on the home you come from, some kids will have more academic background knowledge (other kids will have lots of other background knowledge, but not academic knowledge)
– if parents take kids on trips, read to them, take them to cultural events, that adds to academic background knowledge
– that has a huge impact on

STudy “Meaningful Differences” looked at 3 types of families over time: white collar/professional, next level down was working class/blue collar, third category was welfare families
– had very frequent observation schedule
– conclusions:
1- everyone loves their kids
2- language used and exposed to: by the 48 million words of dialog comapred to 14 million words of dialog

THE WAY HE DESCRIBED THIS STUDY WAS PRETTY TRANSPARENTLY PEJORITIVE VS WORKING CLASS AND WELFAR

if we had all the money and resources: best thing to do is bring those kids on field trips, make sure those kids have conversations at the dinner table
– we are clearly limited on how much we can do that

Direct vocabulary instruction for all students makes sense for ALL students

I AM GETTING SICK. I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM HEARING THIS.

Direct vocabulary instruction has huge research-based benefits
– so pick a handful of terms for each content area per grade level
– 240 terms

DECONTEXTUALIZED VOCABLULARY INSTRUCTION OUTSIDE REAL EXPERIENCES THAT BUILD REAL SCHEMA ARE WORTHLESS. I DO NOT AGREE WITH WHAT MARZANO IS AVOCATING HERE.

example of 3rd grade social studies terms
– I’ve looked at the lists of terms you state DOE has come up with, these are great lists
– pie in the sky: imagine if you did this K-8, there would be all these concepts all kids would know
– “you could pretty much guarantee your kids would understand all those concepts”

Remember about 20 years ago when people were talking about “paradigm shifts” in education
– I think this is bifurcation
– take a complex system and push it to its limits, the entire infrastructure will change radically
– you can do that at your peril
– we have found leadership for incremental change is different for second order/complex change

simple change, behaviors that are most appropriate
– emphasize relationships
– establish strong lines of communication
– basically “support the troops”
– be an advocate for the school
– provide resources
– maintain visibility
0- protect teachers from distractions
– create culture of collaboration
– look for and celebrate successes

If you are working toward 2nd order change you are asking
– cartoon: “I don’t want to ‘think outside the box. I just want a bigger box.”

Far Side Cartoon of rex the old doing attempting a new trick (tightrope walking)

2nd order change characteristics:
– shake up the status quo
– expect some things to seem worse
– propose new ideas
– operate from strong beliefs
– tolerate ambiguity and dissent
– talk research and theory
– create explicit goals for change
– define success in terms of goals

I THINK THESE IDEAS ARE GREAT TO KEEP IN MIND IN THE CONTEXT OF REAL SCHOOL REFORM, INCLUDING 1:1 LEARNING PROJECTS. I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE THAT MARZANO CHAMPIONED TEACHERS TEACHING VOCABULARY LISTS IN EACH CONTENT AREA FOR EACH GRADE.

I am of the belief if you are embarking on a big change that is well thought out, all it takes is a handful of vocal people to stop the change

discuss

MY THOUGHT: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED IN COBB COUNTY, GEORGIA WITH THE FAILED 1:1 LAPTOP INITIATIVE THERE

If you are the leader, your

death by newspaper: “no report cards in that school? are they crazy?

people will do amazing things to stop change
– more Far Side cartoons

I WONDER IF MARZANO GOT COPYRIGHT CLEARANCE TO USE THESE CARTOONS, LIKE HIS SMALL HANDOUT EXHORTS US TO DO FOR HIS IDEAS?

People who become principals love the classroom but say to themselves if I go one level higher, I can make a bigger difference

OR THEY ARE COACHES

If you are ready to retire, you do have the right to retire and fish
– but instead, what about trying to make the changes you always wanted to make in schools
– what are they going to do? Go fish and retire anyway?

I REALLY AGREE WITH THIS, AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO EDUCATORS TO BELIEVE IN THE DIFFERENCES THEY CAN MAKE, AND STICK AROUND TO MAKE THOSE DIFFERENCES!

Question: do we have the leadership and will to stand up, step up to the plate, and take the heat needed to make the changes that are needed

END OF NOTES

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2 Responses to The New Era of Comprehensive School Reform: Three Critical Interventions for Effective District/School Reform (Robert Marzano)

  1. […] with digital tools AND ask students as well as teachers to answer and ASK different questions. Dr. Robert Marzano quotes research that if teachers in schools were to attempt to teach all our current national standards with the […]

  2. A says:

    I went to similar Marzano session & asked about the vocab lists being out of context – he had not intended old-fashioned memorization – more like Sitton where integration occurs. I understood from our conversation he doesn’t think you should assume kids will isolate and learn important vocab on their own – it needs to be pointed out and its importance noted.

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