Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) is a comprehensive, strength-based approach to improving secondary school experiences and outcomes. It uses eight interlocking strategies to build intentional staff-to-staff, staff-to-student, and student-to-student relationships in middle and high schools. BARR is currently being implemented in more than 100 schools throughout the United States, ranging from large urban high schools to small rural middle and high schools.
AIR conducted a large-scale independent evaluation of the BARR model in ninth grade in eleven high schools in Maine, California, Minnesota, Kentucky, and Texas. This sample of schools included large and small schools in urban, suburban, and rural areas, serving students from a wide range of demographic and socio-economic backgrounds.
Funded with a validation grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program, this evaluation used random assignment of ninth-grade students to BARR and control conditions to estimate the impacts of the BARR model after one year. The evaluation also assessed the fidelity of implementation of BARR in the eleven study schools and identified barriers to and facilitators of successful implementation.
The evaluation focused on several teacher- and student-level outcomes. The teacher outcomes included measures of teacher collaboration and use of data, among others. The academic outcomes included course failure, students’ grade point average (GPA), and performance on the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized reading and mathematics assessments. Study outcomes also included student-reported measures of supportive relationships, perceptions of teachers’ expectations of them, student engagement, and others. In addition to these outcomes, the report includes impact estimates for attendance, suspensions, and persistence into 10th grade.