15:56 PM

Q&A with Karrie Ehlenfeldt: Committing to the practice of teaching

Well Connected - Fall | Winter 2019

There are only five Level 3-certified High Reliability Teachers in the United States. Impressively, three teach in the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District. Karrie Ehlenfeldt, WHA district assessment coordinator, is in that group and recently sat down for a Q&A session to share more about the program and the impact it is having on student achievement.


Q. What does it mean to become certified as a High Reliability Teacher?

To me, becoming a High Reliability Teacher (HRT) means I am committing to enhance and develop my personal and professional practice. I am proving that I use best instructional practices, have evidence of student learning, and have valid and rigorous feedback for students.

Q. When did you first hear about this program and why did you decide to pursue it?

I first heard about this program through a pilot opportunity through Sourcewell. We did not have very detailed information at the very beginning, but the chance to work with Dr. Robert Marzano and be part of a pilot program was very intriguing to me. I am always looking to be part of and try new things, so it was a perfect fit.

Q. What was the process to become an HRT?

Within HRT there are three levels, or four courses. Each level has criteria you need to put into place and prove with evidence that you are doing each task. Some sample tasks include videos of your teaching, setting individual goals, student work, proficiency scales, student assessments, and lots of reflection on your teaching and student outcomes.

Q. How does that impact how and what you teach?

The biggest impact in my teaching is being intentional about my planning and delivering of content to students.I am focused on student outcomes more than what I, as the teacher, am doing. For example, I can deliver the best lesson and ensure I have many examples, but if my students do not understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how to do it, my lesson failed. Using students as a gauge for me as the teacher has been a shift and instrumental to increasing student learning.

Q. In simple terms, what does that mean for students? What is the impact on their learning?

Through proficiency scales (steps for learning progression), students are the leaders of their learning. Students can articulate what they can do, and where they need to go in order to master the standard. Since I am more prepared and have a clear path, the proficiency scale, the student learning is more directed and clearer. All students know the expectations and how to get there.

Q. Are you a different teacher because of this training and certification?

Absolutely. I learned about myself, my students, and my professional practice. I have learned how to create a road map of my content more effectively, ensure student learning, and allow students to shine through empowering them as individual learners. I know that last school year was my best year with students, and this year will be even better – all because I have more tools and knowledge to grow my practice each year.


What is the High Reliability Teacher program?

The Marzano Resources High Reliability Teacher™ (HRT) program recognizes the advancement of a teacher's instructive skills and knowledge in three levels:

• Effective use of teaching strategies

• Student learning

• Valid and rigorous feedback


What educators are saying…

“The use of proficiency scales and subsequent goal tracking has helped my middle school students take more control of their learning and fostered further independent learning.”  – Miranda Graceffa, Crosslake Community School

“I think the biggest impact with my students is that they have taken more ownership of their own learning. Using the proficiency scales in the classroom gives the students a map of where they need to go and they are able to identify where they are on the journey. It's not me telling them what they need; they are telling me what they need to get them to the next level. They are so excited when they see their own progress!”
– Shannon Rivard, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Schools


Learn more at about Sourcewell's School Growth and Leadership Development opportunities at