Maine Expands Building Assets Reducing Risks (BARR) Model to 30 Additional Schools

Maine Department of Education

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) announced grants for 30 additional Maine schools to implement the Building Assets Reducing Risks (BARR) model to increase academic achievement, engagement, and student and staff wellbeing. These new grants build on the Maine DOE’s initial BARR investment last summer, with nearly 100 schools now implementing BARR across the state.

BARR offers schools a framework that combines relationship building and asset development with real-time data to support students based on their strengths and connections to school. Empirical studies show that BARR results in increased student engagement, reduced chronic absenteeism, a 40 percent reduction on average in failure rates after one year of implementation, increased student achievement rates, and a reduction in high-risk student behavior and substance use. Educators report increased job satisfaction, higher levels of collaboration, and higher likelihood of persisting in their jobs after implementing BARR.

These positive changes are reflected in Maine schools that are already implementing BARR. Since implementing BARR, Bucksport High School’s graduation rate increased by more than 15 percent and Mt. Blue School High School has experienced a 30 percent decrease in chronically absent students, with a daily attendance rate of 94.14 percent. Through BARR, Noble Middle School has created more than 200 mentor matches to support students with significant risk factors. Westbrook High School’s BARR team was able to identify increased anxiety as the cause of a chronically absent student’s disengagement. They collaborated as staff and worked with the student’s family to create personalized interventions to improve the student’s experience at school. Now actively engaged in school activities and supported by a comprehensive plan, this student is not only coming to school and passing classes but has found a new passion for theatre.

“We are focused on empowering educators and school leaders, providing them with the tools and resources to strengthen the incredible teaching and learning happening in Maine schools. When I speak with educators who have implemented BARR in their schools, they are so enthusiastic about the positive academic and wellbeing changes they’ve experiences with students and the deeper relationships they are building with students and colleagues,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “We’ve invested in BARR as a state because of the extensive research behind it and the overwhelming support it has among Maine educators. BARR offers a flexible framework that any school can adapt to meet their unique needs with results that extend years beyond the initial investment.”

“We are thrilled with the success of the schools implementing BARR in Maine. Bucksport, Maine was the first high school to take on the BARR model after I developed the model as a high school counselor in its original site in Minnesota. Jim Boothby, superintendent of Bucksport, saw BARR’s potential in 2010, and now we are the most researched model in the country,” said BARR Founder and Executive Director Angie Jerabek. “Maine schools continue to show student and educator gains under the BARR model, and we are excited to partner with the Maine Department of Education in this expansion.”

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Mt. Blue High School social studies teacher Matt Fournier. “BARR doesn’t take time out of our schedule; it makes time. Since we are building relationships, we get greater buy-in, and students are more connected to the school.”

“I’m a true believer in the program. We originally brought it on because the main focus was grades and the transition into ninth grade. For us, it really made a difference when we could see the number of failures in our coursework had changed significantly in the first year and then changed again the next year. And then as time went on, it went into more of the behavioral and checking in with the students and making sure they had trusted adults and really working on how they created a culture within the ninth-grade cohorts,” said Superintendent Mary Anne Spearin, who first implemented BARR as principal of Calais Middle/High School. BARR expanded to Calais Elementary School this year.

“The Loranger team is very excited to be partnering with BARR and implementing their research-based program. We know that this will help us grow and better meet the needs of all of our learners. We’re grateful for the funding to bring a program that has proven results among many schools in our state. We are eager to begin working with BARR to put into practice a system that supports both staff and students,” said Loranger Memorial School Principal Matthew Foster, who first experienced BARR as a classroom teacher at Noble High School. He is enthusiastic about bringing BARR to his school as an administrator in Old Orchard Beach.

“We are excited to welcome BARR to Indian Township School,” said Indian Township School Principal Molly Newell. “BARR’s focus is on building supportive relationships, addressing social-emotional needs, and promoting academic success, which aligns with our school’s goals of culturally relevant education, community involvement, and holistic student development within the context of our Indigenous values and traditions.”

More than 60 Maine educators just attended BARR’s national conference, with Commissioner Makin speaking on a panel of other state education leaders about how they are improving outcomes in their states. Educators from Brunswick Junior High School, Calais Elementary School, Maranacook Community High School in Readfield, Mt. Blue Regional School District, and Saccarappa Elementary School in Westbrook led workshops and served on panels to share the expertise they have gained through BARR implementation.

Maine was selected by the National Governors Association as one of five states who are engaged in exemplary efforts to support the mental health and wellbeing of students and school staff. Through this initiative, the NGA is supporting implementation of the BARR model in other states through technical support at the national level.

Read more about the BARR experience at Mt. Blue High SchoolCalais Elementary School, and Noble Middle School. Listen to Commissioner Makin’s podcast highlighting BARR schools here.

The Maine DOE used American Rescue Plan funding to create a competitive BARR grant to help schools invest in the model. To learn more about this funding, visit Maine’s Whole Student Pandemic Response page.

New BARR Grantees
AOS 94 – Ridge View Community School
AOS 96 – Fort O’Brien School
Baxter Academy for Tech & Sciences
Cherryfield School District – Cherryfield Elementary
Easton School Department – Easton Elementary School
Eustis Public School District – Stratton Elementary School
Indian Township School
Madawaska School Department – Madawaska Middle/High School
MSAD 17 – Paris Elementary School
MSAD 24 / RSU 88 -Van Buren District Secondary Sch
MSAD 6 – Edna Libby Elementary School
MSAD 6 – George E Jack School
MSAD 6 – H B Emery Jr Memorial School
MSAD 61 – Lake Region Middle School
North Haven Community School
RSU 10 – Buckfield Jr-Sr High School
RSU 14 – Jordan-Small Middle School
RSU 14 – Manchester Elementary School
RSU 14 – Windham Primary School
RSU 2 – Hall-Dale Middle and High School
RSU 2 – Monmouth Academy
RSU 2 – Monmouth Memorial School
RSU 23 – Loranger Memorial School
RSU 3 – Mt View High School
RSU 38 – Readfield Elementary School
RSU 39 – Caribou High School
RSU 56 – T W Kelly Dirigo Middle School
RSU 74 – Carrabec Community School
Saco Schools – Saco Middle School
Winthrop Public Schools – Winthrop Middle School
2023 Grantees
Acadia Academy
AOS 90, Princeton Elementary
Biddeford High School
Biddeford Intermediate School
Biddeford Middle School
Brunswick Junior High School
Calais Elementary School
Calais Middle/High School
Calais Middle/High School
Camden Hills Regional HS
Gorham School Department- Great Falls Elementary School
Gorham School Department- Narragansett Elementary School
Gorham School Department- Village Elementary School
Islesboro Central School
Kittery- Traip Academy
Maine Academy of Natural Sciences
MSAD 46- Dexter Regional High School
MSAD 44- Telstar Middle School
MSAD 52- Leavitt Area High School
MSAD 52- Tripp Middle School
MSAD 55- Sacopee Valley High School
MSAD 55- Sacopee Valley Middle School
MSAD 58- Day Mountain Regional Middle School
MSAD 58- Kingfield Elementary
MSAD 58- Mt. Abram High School
MSAD 58- Phillips Elementary
MSAD 6- Bonny Eagle Middle School
MSAD 60- Noble Middle School
MSAD 61- Lake Region High School
MSAD 70- Mill Pond School
MSAD 75- Mt. Ararat Middle School
MSAD 17- Oxford Hills Middle School
MSAD 49- Lawrence High School
RSU 24- Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus
RSU 34- Leonard Middle School
RSU 38- Maranacook Community High School
RSU 38- Maranacook Community Middle School
RSU 4- Oak Hill High School
RSU 4- Oak Hill Middle School
RSU 78- Rangeley Lakes Regional School
RSU 10- Mountain Valley High School
RSU 10- Mountain Valley Middle School
RSU 13- Oceanside Middle School
RSU 14- Windham High School
RSU 16- Bruce M. Whittier Middle School
RSU 16- Elm Street School
RSU 16- Minot Consolidated School
RSU 16- Poland Community School
RSU 34- Old Town Elementary
RSU 35- Marshwood High School
RSU 35- Marshwood Middle School
RSU 56- Dirigo High School
RSU 59- Madison High School
RSU 83/MSAD 13- Moscow Elementary School
RSU 83/MSAD 13- Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School
RSU 9- Academy Hill School
RSU 9- Cape Cod Hill School
RSU 9- G.D. Cushing School
RSU 9- Mt. Blue High School
RSU 9- Mt. Blue Middle School
RSU 9- W.G. Mallett School
RSU 16- Poland Regional High School
RSU 64- Central High School
RSU9- Cascade Brook School
SAD 17- Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School
Sanford High School
Westbrook School Department- Canal School
Westbrook School Department- Congin Elementary
Westbrook School Department- Saccarappa School
Westbrook School Department- Westbrook High School
Westbrook School Department- Westbrook Middle School