The study took place in three US high schools, one in rural Maine and two in suburban California.
Students in School A (rural Maine) were 7% minority, <1% English language learners, 17.7% special education, and 39.2% free and reduced-price lunch. Students in School B (suburban California) were 94% minority, 15.4% English language learners, 11.2% special education, and 89% free and reduced-price lunch. Students in School C (suburban California) were 72% minority, 8.3% English language learners, 16.6% special education, and 80.7% free and reduced-price lunch The total sample size was 1,209 9th grade students (605 intervention, 604 comparison).
The BARR model was implemented over the full school year. The program is designed to build student assets and create a more personalized student learning environment. In addition, the program emphasizes the continuous evaluation of student data by teachers so that they can collaborate with their teacher team and prevent student failure. The BARR model restructures 9th grade into blocks of 3-4 person teacher teams. Teacher teams meet weekly and collaboratively plan, problem solve, and assess. In-situation coaching, quarterly site-to-site mentoring visits, and technology-enabled learning opportunities are provided to staff implementing the intervention. The model includes 8 strategies: 1) professional development, 2) restructuring the high school course schedule, 3) parent involvement to support high school reform, 4) developmental assets curriculum, 5) block meetings, collaborative problem solving, 6) risk review for persistently failing students, 7) whole student emphasis in instructional reform, and 8) contextual support (focus on leadership).
The comparison condition was a business as usual comparison condition. Comparison group students did not receive the additional supports that the BARR model students were provided and received the traditional 9th grade structure and curriculum.
Support for implementation
Support for implementation is provided by BARR coaches and site mentors. As stated previously, the intervention includes restructuring the ninth grade teachers into blocks of three- to four- person teacher teams, and each team included at least one experienced and highly effective teacher. Teacher teams implementing BARR participated in collaborative assessment, problem-solving, and weekly planning.