Social Emotional Learning at

Dallas Independent School District

Thank you for your interest in Building Assets, Reducing Risks! Please enjoy the resources available here and feel free to reach out to Jennifer Urciaga with any questions. She can be reached 24/7 at 651-213-4875 and 651-246-0175.

Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) is a strengths-based secondary whole school (grades 6-12) model that provides schools with a comprehensive approach to meeting the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of all students. BARR works directly with educators to better connect with their students and address the issues that cause students to drop out, fail courses, and/or engage in harmful behavior.


Getting to Know BARR

Eight interconnected strategies

Eight interconnected strategies

Eight Interconnected Strategies

BARR’s eight interconnected strategies are grounded in best practices in education, and provide a comprehensive structure through which a school can offer a more personal and relevant learning experience to students, ensuring they are academically successful and thriving as individuals. Schools create time each week for a social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum (I-Time) that facilitates each teacher’s identification of student strengths and helps to humanize the teachers. BARR schools use real-time data to identify and address barriers to learning for all students, as well as promote effective community partnerships to help meet the needs of students most at risk for academic failure and behavior issues.

Grades are a good indicator of how a student is doing, but if you just look at grades, you miss a lot of things: social changes, friend-group changes, attendance, health...all of a sudden a student is too skinny...It’s like a puzzle and everyone holds a piece of the puzzle, so when we are all together, we can see the whole kid.
— Janice Eldridge, a BARR Coordinator in Maine, was interviewed for Education Week


BARR in the News

Equity in Education Focus of White House Roundtable, Angela Jerabek, Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR), Reports on the Evidence that Drives Equity (October 2016)

Raising the BARR, St. Louis Park Program Boosts Achievement, Graduation Rates - and Relationships (October 2016)

Education Week Highlights BARR: In Maine, Intervention Smooths 9th Graders' Paths (March 2016)

Boosting Graduation Rates for Minority Students (January 2016)

Because not all our kids come to us on a level playing field. I knew that, but I hadn’t really been doing very much very effectively to help with that, and I think that’s what makes them feel empowered. That as a community at school and a wider community, we’re working towards something that’s better and that can be lasting and that can affect change in the long-term. That makes me feel happy because that’s why I became a teacher.
— Classroom Teacher, after the first year of BARR
Upon completion of two girl self-esteem groups, there were a number of girls who took a post-evaluation of their self-esteem and numerous girls rated themselves anywhere from 5-40 points higher than when they started.
— Licensed Professional Counselor, Hemet Unified School District
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I know that BARR was originally created for 9th grade because it is pivotal year in their schooling. I think that is true, but I also think middle school is a crucial time in kids’ development. This is a time where students still rely a lot on adults to help them shape who they will become but are just starting to make more independent decisions about who they are. If we can catch them now, we set them up for a successful high school experience. The longer kids feel disengaged, the harder they are to reach. Reaching them earlier is critical. Many of them struggle with mental health or family issues that will compound over time if not addressed. BARR gives a very structured way to do this and ensures that we are making connections to kids who could have been overlooked or given up on.
— Kristen Hobbs, BARR Coordinator, Noble Middle School

Supporting Research

Evidence from seven within-school randomized controlled trials (RCT) has proven that BARR produces statistically significant increases in students’ passing rates of courses, higher scores on standardized tests in reading and mathematics, and stronger positive relationships between teachers and students. BARR also reduced the achievement gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students in a large urban school by 50% after two years of implementation, and it remains closed to date. Longitudinal studies on BARR schools have shown increased graduation rates, reduced suspensions and behavior reports, and improved the school climate for students and staff. BARR is listed in NREPP (National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices) because of its ability to reduce risk behaviors and increase thriving behaviors. It is also listed in CASEL’s secondary guide for effective social and emotional programs. BARR’s effectiveness has been rigorously researched, evaluated, and proven through multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that meet US Department of Educations’ What Works Clearinghouse standards for an evidence-based study without reservation. 

Hemet High School: California School Climate Survey Results 2013-2014, 2015-2016

Hemet High School: School Climate Report Card Spring 2016

Hemet High School Research, Years 1, 2 and 3

Successful Transition to High School: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the BARR Model with 9th Grade Students, SREE Presentation and SREE Conference Abstract 2015

Starting Strong: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the BARR Model with 9th Grade Students, SREE Presentation 2016

The Building Assets-Reducing Risks Program: Replication and Expansion of an Effective Strategy to Turn Around Low-Achieving Schools, i3 Development Grant, Final Report 2015


Evaluating Implementation Fidelity of a Ninth Grade Intervention for Reducing Classroom Failure, AEA 2014 Poster

Academic Success for All Students Through Positive Relationships and Use of Real-Time Data, AERA Submission 2015 and Presentation

i3 BARR Validation Study, Impact Findings: Cohort 1

Using Essential Practices for Cultural Competence to Close the Achievement Gap, AEA 2015 Poster and Handout

Promoting Chemical Health for High School Students through the Investing in Innovation (i3) - BARR Project, Report 2013

Because of BARR, I’ve had conversations sometimes with kids where I’ve defused situations. For example, one kid who was getting very confrontational early in the year took a breath, and I saw for a second the situation and I realized I don’t think this kid would be acting like this if he felt welcomed.
— Classroom Teacher