The study took place in 11 high schools, of which three were rural (two in Maine, one in Kentucky), seven were suburban (six in California, one in Minnesota), and one was urban (in Texas).
In the analytic sample for the percentage of core course credits earned, 49% of students were female, 10% were Black, 26% were White, and race was not specified for the remaining 64%. Fifty-seven percent were Hispanic, 32% were English learners, 8% were identified as "special education" by the authors, and 79% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) is a comprehensive, strength-based approach that uses eight interlocking strategies to build intentional staff-to-staff, staff-to-student, and student-to-student relationships in secondary schools. The BARR team works with participating schools to provide professional development, coaching, the I-Time curriculum (a social and emotional curriculum), and administrative supports. On the basis of prior evidence of model effectiveness, the program developers expect that schools that implement the program with fidelity will see improvements in school climate, teacher experiences, student engagement, and, over time, academic outcomes.
Control group teachers worked together as a fixed group of core subject teachers, similar to the BARR treatment group teachers. However, they did not receive special support or guidance for whether or how to collaborate within their blocks, and they did not have access to a designated BARR coordinator, BARR training and coaching, or the I-Time curriculum.
Support for implementation
The BARR team works with schools to improve the quality of these meetings and to help them implement other BARR activities, including the I-Time curriculum. Schools that have adopted the BARR model are part of an ongoing learning community beyond their 3-year commitment and participate in annual BARR conferences at which they share their BARR experiences and lessons learned.