Maine School Officials Say Program Is Helping Raise Test Scores, Reduce Discipline Problems

Portland Press Herald

Noble High School officials said Tuesday they are seeing higher test scores and fewer disciplinary problems two years after launching a multimillion-dollar program aimed at ninth-graders that emphasizes making social and emotional connections with students.


The Building Assets-Reducing Risks program is described as a “structured, tag-team approach” targeting ninth-graders. Under the program, teams of ninth-grade teachers, counselors, social workers and others are assigned blocks of freshmen. They meet regularly to discuss individual student’s progress and the entire group is responsible for the overall progress of all students in the block.


The students also attend a period where they do group activities to encourage them to share information and form connections.

“It’s a good way to talk to people,” said Jordynn Godin, 14, a freshman at Noble. “It helps you learn about someone in a new way.”

“Usually, you have those cliques, but now you don’t because it’s kind of a forced group,” said Andrew Morissette, 14.

At Noble, standardized test scores are up 15 percent and truancy and disciplinary problems are down, said BARR coordinator Janice Eldridge.

The school hosted a two-day conference on Tuesday and Wednesday for teachers from several states that are testing the BARR approach.

“It’s about people. It’s about relationships,” said Angela Jerabek, who developed the BARR program when she was a counselor at St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota. “If we’re being attentive to the person, and use data, we’re going to continue to see incredible results.”

In 2013, Spurwink was awarded a five-year, $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement the BARR program in Maine schools. In 2015-16, BARR will be used in schools in seven states, through 25 grants nationwide.

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