Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR)

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Program description

Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR), offered by the BARR Center, provides an organizational approach to SEL. It includes programming for K-12 and demonstrates evidence of effectiveness at grade 9. Translated materials for BARR are available in Spanish.

Strategies supporting educational equity

BARR features strategies for understanding context and working with bias. This includes guidance for facilitating activities with students that help educators understand student experience more deeply and adjust instruction accordingly. Also, during initial training adults are guided through reflections on their own biases. These reflections are built into the action planning and coaching model for the subsequent school year.

      • SEL lessons
      • Instructional practices
      • Relationship building
      • SEL generalization
      • Shared agreements
      • Adult SEL
      • Community partnerships
      • Family Intervention Component
      • School Involvement
      • Connecting Families With Community Supports
    • Onsite in-person training
    • Virtual training
    • Offsite training
    • Train the trainer model
    • Administrator support
    • Coaching
    • Technical assistance
    • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
    • Online resource library
    • Self-report tools for monitoring implementation
    • Observational tools
    • Tools for measuring student success

Evidence of effectiveness

Results from a within-school randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluation conducted in 2011-2012 (published in 2015) supported the effectiveness of the BARR program for high school students. This evaluation included 548 grade 9 students in suburban and rural high schools in the US West and Northeast (white = 52%, Latinx = 37%; 68% of students were eligible for FRPL). The study found that students receiving the program earned significantly more credits towards their graduation and had higher standardized test scores in mathematics and reading compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported one academic year after baseline, while controlling for standardized scores for mathematics and reading at pre-test).

Results from a randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation conducted over three consecutive academic years from 2014-2017 (published in 2018 and 2019) supported the effectiveness of Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) with high school students. This evaluation was conducted with a sample of approximately 4,000 students in grade 9 from diverse regions and geographic locations across the US (predominantly white and Latinx; 79% eligible for FRPL). These evaluations found that students who participated in the program had higher academic achievement (i.e., GPA, reading and mathematics standardized test scores, greater number of core credits earned, more likely to pass all their core courses) compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported 9 months after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest and a host of relevant demographic covariates). Additionally, students who participated in the program self-reported significantly greater school engagement, teacher expectations, and more supportive student-teacher relationships in the spring of grade 9 compared to students in the control group.

  • Evidence shown in grades
    School characteristics
      • Rural
      • Suburban
      • Northeast
      • Southeast
      • Southwest
      • Midwest
      • West
    Student characteristics
    • Black / African American
    • Hispanic / Latinx
    • White
    • Low income
    Percentage Low Income
    • Eligible for FRPL: 79%
    Study design type
    • RCT
    Greater than 350 students included in study design type
    • Yes
    Multiple school districts included at study design type
    • Yes
    • Improved academic performance
    • Reduced emotional distress
    • Improved identity development and agency
    • Reduced problem behaviors
    • Improved school climate
    • Improved school connectedness
    • Improved social behaviors
    • Improved teaching practices
    • Improved other SEL skills and attitudes

How does Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) support SEL implementation across multiple settings?

“BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) is a model that provides educators with the tools and structure to work together in support of developing proactive strategies for the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs of each and every student so that they thrive inside and outside of the classroom.”
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