Easing the transition to high school

With the help of the Andersen and Hazelden Corporate Foundations, North Branch Area High School is implementing a new program this year to create more successful transitions into high school. The BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) program is a strength-based model developed to help students manage the transition to high school. It will serve all ninth grade students.
Transitioning to high school can be a difficult time for students, and can result in academic struggles early. For instance, last year roughly 24 percent of ninth grade students failed one or more classes. Unlike other efforts to facilitate a smooth transition from middle school to high school, the BARR program is specifically designed to address this issue.
BARR has shown great success in reducing the number of failures among ninth grade students. BARR schools have shown ‘breakthrough’ type gains in student achievement, reducing failed classes for ninth graders from roughly 30 to 7 percent on average. That is a staggering improvement. Two fundamental pillars of the BARR program are (1) creating positive, intentional relationships and (2) using real-time student data in collaborative problem-solving settings to guide instructional action.
North Branch Area High School has created two goals to be achieved through the use of the BARR program. First, by spring of 2018, NBAHS will reduce the number of ninth grade failures from 25 to under 10 percent. Secondly, by spring of 2018, NBAHS will reduce the number of ninth grade office referrals by 25 percent.
It is critical that ninth grade students are as successful in school as possible. A successful first year sets the tone for the remaining three, and students will be more motivated and engaged if they aren’t “digging out” of an academic hole created in year one. I am grateful to high school principal Coleman McDonough and his team for implementing this program and look forward to many successes to come!

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