How the BARR Method Helps Build Strong Relationships for Academic Success

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Author: Anne Baldridge
Published: 4:41 PM EDT June 6, 2023
Updated: 7:17 PM EDT June 6, 2023

WESTBROOK, Maine — A different approach to learning is gaining traction in the United States, particularly in Maine.

Known as the BARR model, which stands for Building Assets, Reducing Risks, this innovative educational framework centers around strong relationships and leveraging data to support student success.

Founded in 1999, the BARR model has shown promising results in improving academic outcomes, particularly for students of color and those from low-income backgrounds.

According to an independent study, a staggering 42 percent of non-BARR freshmen in Maine failed at least one core course. However, for students enrolled in the BARR program, this number dropped to less than 30 percent.

The positive impact of the BARR model is not limited to academic performance alone. It has also been instrumental in supporting students of color and those facing socioeconomic challenges.

“It’s been a way to help all students by improving close-knit relationships with each other and staff and helping each student find their own strengths,” Patrick Colgan, co-principal at Westbrook High School, explained.

By fostering a sense of community and empowering students to recognize and leverage their strengths, the BARR model creates a supportive environment where students feel connected and engaged.

Recognizing the effectiveness of the BARR model, the Maine Department of Education recently made an exciting announcement.

They have decided to fund the implementation of the BARR system in all public K-12 schools across the state.

Maine has been at the forefront of incorporating this program, with some schools already utilizing the BARR model for the past decade.

Beth Lambert, a representative from the Maine Department of Education, affirms the commitment.

“Maine and the Department of Education are making a significant investment through the use of federal funds to support the implementation of BARR,” she said.

Schools in Maine have pledged to utilize the BARR program for a minimum of three years, ensuring a sustained impact on student success and well-being.

The BARR program extends beyond the purely academic focus. It encompasses social and emotional learning, allowing students to build meaningful connections and address various issues that impact their well-being.

Teachers and counselors at Westbrook High School, for example, dedicate time each month to check on all 350 students, assessing their academic progress and emotional well-being.

The inclusion of the BARR model in all Maine public K-12 schools signifies a significant step toward providing students with a comprehensive and supportive educational experience.

Eighty-seven schools, or approximately 15 percent of all Maine public schools, have already signed up to implement the BARR model starting in the upcoming fall.

The Maine Department of Education aspires to increase this percentage over the next few years, demonstrating its commitment to ensuring the well-being and success of every student.

By embracing the BARR model, Maine’s public schools are taking a significant step toward creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment that promotes academic success for all.