Minnesota Legislature Approves $5 Million Funding for Evidence-Based BARR System

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (May 17, 2023) — BARR Center (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) announced $5 million for more Minnesota schools to implement the BARR system was included in the final House and Senate 2023 education finance bill and is headed to Minnesota Governor Walz’s desk for final sign-off.

Introduced in January 2023 as bipartisan legislation and authored by House E-12 Finance Committee Chair Rep. Cheryl Youakim (Hopkins) and Sen. Aric Putnam (St. Cloud), the funding will allow 18 geographically distributed (urban, suburban, and rural) Minnesota schools to implement the BARR system over three years. More than 40 Minnesota schools and 200 others nationally are currently using the BARR system to improve their schools’ cultures and students’ outcomes.

“I want you to picture how hard it is to be a teacher and to have a system come into place that can support you in accomplishing things that support and help the students – that’s what BARR is” shared Lake Elmo Elementary Instructional Coach Lisa Boland Blake during a February legislative hearing. She was one of more than 15 educators who testified during committee
hearings in support of funding the BARR system for more Minnesota schools. Boland Blake went on to tell legislators “I’ve been in education for 38 years. BARR is here to stay.”

Now more than ever, in this challenging, post-pandemic period, educators need support addressing school climate and student mental health issues. Using existing resources, the BARR system focuses on building meaningful relationships – capitalizing on the strengths of every student – and leveraging student data to truly transform a school’s culture. In every school implemented it has proven to be a successful way to meet the social and emotional needs of all students while simultaneously increasing student achievement and teacher satisfaction and effectiveness.

“This is a really big thing that is going to allow for teacher retention in a time where many schools are searching to have more applicants for positions,” stated White Bear Lake High School Associate Principal Joseph Held during his legislative testimony. “I want to highlight that BARR has transformed our ability to address recurring behavior problems, and also our academics have improved. Our passing rates have gone up and our behavior rates have gone down. And, again, this has nothing to do with new content or new curriculum, it’s how we as adults are helping our students.”

The BARR system stands alone as the most consistently proven school improvement model in the country. Through rigorous studies conducted by the American Institute for Research (AIR), the BARR system has demonstrated statistically significant results in 20 areas, including
increasing math and English achievement scores, improving student credit attainment, reducing course failure, closing the achievement gap, and reducing chronic absenteeism all while improving the school environment for both students and staff.

“I’ve been teaching for 31 years and for a lot of those years I felt like I was on an island when dealing with students who struggled. I tried to figure it out by myself, there was nothing set up for me to communicate with other teachers,” shared Detroit Lakes High School Social Studies Teacher Kalan Malchow during legislative testimony in February. “With the BARR meeting
systems, teachers communicate and share strategies about how to meet the needs of these students. The data reaffirms the effectiveness of this crucial program.”

BARR Center will work with the Minnesota Department of Education on the application and school selection process. The schools will be geographically distributed (urban, suburban, and rural) and priority will be given to schools serving Black, Indigenous, and students of color, and
those experiencing poverty. Educator training will be scheduled for this summer, and schools will begin implementing the BARR system during the 2023-24 school year. These schools will form a statewide network and also join the national network of BARR schools.

“BARR’s mission is to create equitable schools where every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status, has access to high quality education where adults know them, recognize their strengths, and help them succeed,” explains Angela Jerabek, founder and executive director of the BARR Center. “I am so grateful to the Minnesota legislature for allocating this funding so more educators and students can experience the BARR system, a true evidence-based school success system.”


About BARR Center
BARR Center (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) delivers the expertise and resources required for a school to implement the BARR system, an evidence-backed system designed to nurture a collaborative and strengths-based culture of support and success for every student through
intentionally deepening relationships and improving use of data. For more information, visit, https://barrcenter.org/.