- Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR), with its mantra -- “Same Students. Same Teachers. Better Results” – targets 9th graders with an eight-pronged strategy that offers a holistic, positive, teamwork approach to building relationships with students, tapping into their potential, and encouraging them to stay in school, according to the Hechinger Report.
- The program, which was developed in 1999, does not require a large-scale transformation in schools, but does require a time commitment as teachers work together with each other, administrators, and parents to focus on student strengths, identify struggles early and help students get on a good track for high school completion.
- Because of its record of improving student success, the program will be implemented in 100 schools in 15 states this year, up from 80 schools last year, and is expected to expand to 250 schools by 2020 because of federal grant funding.
According to a recent press release from BARR Center, “On average, BARR schools see a 34.5% reduction in failure rate after one year of implementation, and an evaluation by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) found that the BARR model leads to better academic performance, fewer course failures, more courses attained, and better relationships.”
The program revolves around eight strategies which, according the BARR Center, include focusing on the whole student, providing professional development, fostering a climate for learning through the I-Time curriculum, creating teams of students, having teachers meet regularly to discuss these teams, using risk review teams for students who need stronger interventions, and engaging families and administrators.
With the exception of the I-Time curriculum, which seems unique to the program, these other strategies have broad research-based support and can be implemented in any school. The impact of building positive relationships with students and of having teachers collaborate to support student learning across the curriculum, for instance, are widely recognized. What makes this program different and shows real results is the way the ideas are packaged and integrated with one another in a coherent method. Having 20 years of research behind the program at this point also can make it an easier sell to staff members who may be reluctant to adopt the next new thing.