attribute sorely lacking in Arizona

...Use of such innovative educational instruction requires “leadership” with an embracing open mind … an attribute sorely lacking in Arizona…


The unique teaching model, piloted in Minneapolis, focuses on students’ strengths and teachers’ relationship with the classroom.

TARA GARCÍA MATHEWSON  3 HOURS AGO … read complete artice at llink below…


Freshmen at St. Louis Park High School take time out of their social studies class for a team-building exercise that is part of the school’s Building Assets, Reducing Risks program..

There’s a school improvement model that has gotten consistent results in large schools, small schools, high-performing ones, low-performing ones, those with large achievement gaps, diverse schools, homogenous ones, and schools that are rural, urban, and suburban. An impressive track record of hard evidence has made it the only program to earn three levels of competitive grant funding from the federal government since 2010.

But you’ve probably never heard of it.     The Building Assets, Reducing Risks program, known as BARR, was started by a Minneapolis school counselor in 1999, and remained in relative obscurity for a decade. Since 2010, its creator, Angela Jerabek, has sought research support to test the BARR program in other schools. The BARR mantra—"Same Students. Same Teachers. Better Results"—has led Jerabek to aggressively seek out schools in different regions, with different demographics, to test her theory. So far, it holds up.

No matter where a school starts, the BARR model seems to make it better, and it does so without hiring all new teachers, transforming the school curriculum, or spending a lot of money—though it does require a strong commitment in time.

BARR is able to accomplish so much by prioritizing strong relationships and a focus on student strengths. It forces teachers to track student progress closely and creates a structure for stepping in at the first sign something might be wrong.

"Our system is to catch those coughs before they become pneumonia," says Justin Barbeau, the technical assistance director at the BARR Center and a former social studies teacher at St. Louis Park High School. "It’s really about giving kids the things they need."

BARR has eight broad strategies, and, on their own, they sound like plain old, good schooling: Focus on the whole student; prioritize social and emotional learning; provide professional development for teachers, counselors, and administrators; create teams of students; give teachers time to talk about the students on their respective teams; engage families; engage administrators; and meet to discuss the highest-risk students..

The model requires at least three ninth-grade teachers from core content areas (like English or math) to be on a BARR team. These teachers should have the same students in their classes so they can all bring personal experiences with these kids to their joint conversations. But teachers also split up students and become the main point of contact for a subset of them, which seems to reduce the likelihood anyone will get overlooked.

As they wrapped up their conversation, they filled out a Google form, describing the plan to help keep the student on track, noting his strengths and interests. This automatically populated the spreadsheet and created a record for teachers to review as they followed up with the student and helped change his schedule for the next semester.

These meetings happen weekly, as teams cycle through all the ninth-graders.   When teacher teams run out of ideas for how to help students in trouble, they pass along the challenge to a school "risk review team," made up of administrators, counseling staff members, and others. This team meets weekly to discuss the highest-need students, struggling with severe mental-health problems, family dysfunction, and serious crises.

The goal in all of these meetings is to discuss students’ strengths and capitalize on them. The various elements of BARR serve as a safety net of sorts. They ensure adults are watching every kid, ready to step in when needed.

The program will expand to more than 100 schools in 15 states this coming academic year (up from 80 last year), and the BARR Center expects to grow to 250 schools by 2020, thanks to money from the federal government to support its scale-up.

"In education, unfortunately there is a lot of emphasis on deficits," Osei says. "We’re always trying to figure out how to help students with their deficits. The BARR model flips that on its head." It asks, he said, what are students good at and how can we connect with them?

And the benefits flow from there.

This story was produced in collaboration with the Hechinger Report, a non-profit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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