BARR was founded by Executive Director Angela Jerabek in 1999. Jerabek developed BARR after being a high school counselor and getting discouraged that her 9th grade students were failing at least one core course and were at risk for not graduating on time. She quickly learned from her high school’s principal that this was not just her high school’s problem, but a troubling national trend. She wanted to change that.
Jerabek began helping each and every student succeed by focusing on teachers creating strong relationships with students. In the fall of 1998, Jerabek created the BARR model, and by the spring of 1999, the 9th grade student failure rate had decreased from 44% the previous year to 20%.
During this initial year, she found that teachers worked together and knew each student – not just from an academic perspective, but from a personal perspective – their interests, strengths, hopes, and dreams. Careful implementation and evaluation continued for ten more years, all with the same findings – students passed more classes, pursued more advanced courses, and graduated on time – the focus of BARR is not just for some students, but all students.
After ten years of implementation and positive results in one high school, Jerabek sought to test the BARR model outside of the school where it was first developed. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education issued a call for proposals for innovative educational practices that could be subjected to rigorous scientific testing. Jerabek took up the challenge, wrote a federal grant proposal, and BARR was awarded an i3 (Investing in Innovation) development grant from the U.S. Department of Education, earning the second highest score. After receiving many grants and support, BARR is now being implemented at schools in 18 states across the country. Educators continue to embrace the two key pillars of BARR when they seek to improve their students’ outcomes – relationships and data.