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Systems Diagnostics


If we could build a new system of education from scratch, what would it look like?
This is the guiding question behind McREL's series of eight research reports developed for the Stupski Foundation. The foundation, which is focused on supporting the "fundamental reinvention" of the American system of public education into one that prepares all children for the challenges of life, career, and citizenship in the 21st century, tasked McREL with reviewing education research on several critical components of the current education system. The result of this effort is a series of reports that review relevant research and offer recommendations for re-inventing the public education system.

Systems Diagnostics
An assumption of this report is that diagnostics organized within the High Reliability Organizational (HRO) model provide a more effective means for ensuring the success of Our Kids than the current scattershot approach utilized by most schools systems. The necessary diagnostic pieces are in place within many schools systems; they are just not organized in a coherent and complementary manner.

HROs are defined by several common features:
  • Preoccupation with the operational breakdowns that lead to systemic failure

  • Reluctance to simplify operations and interpretations of lessons learned

  • Sensitivity to the importance of ground-level decision making

  • Commitment to organizational resilience in the face of systemic failures

  • Deference to situational expertise over hierarchy or rank

As it applies to this report, HROs are organized around four simultaneous and overlapping levels: proactive operations, responsive monitoring, adaptive interventions, and ongoing feedback.