How Everything Changes When No Student Is Invisible (aka BARR) Five years into her dream job as a high school counselor at a suburban district in Minnesota, Angela Jerabek tendered her resignation. She loved her role, her students and her colleagues, but she felt defeated. Half of the ninth grade students were failing at least one class, and even more alarming, they didn't seem to care. "When I called students in to talk about the situation, they would tell me, ‘It's okay, Ms. Jerabek. Everyone's failing classes,'" she shares. "Somehow, failure had become the norm for our ninth-graders." All of the warning bells were sounding for Jerabek. Students who are not academically engaged are at greater risk for any number of negative outcomes—from poor school attendance to discipline problems to not graduating. Statistically, students with failing grades are also more prone to risky and harmful behaviors, especially substance use. Instead of accepting Jerabek's resignation, the high school principal challenged her to find a solution. The same scenario was playing out for ninth-grade students across the country. Maybe Jerabek could figure out a different way to do high school. "I spent the summer researching and rethinking the ninthgrade experience," Jerabek shares. "We had extremely talented and capable educators and students. That wasn't the problem. This was a systemic issue." Where Rapport and Data Meet Jerabek returned to school with a plan built on research about the importance of relationships and powered by greater use of the school's student data. The ninth-grade would be divided into teams of students, each taught by a core team of common teachers. This way, the teacher-student cohorts could build greater rapport through both regularly scheduled class-time together and new activities Jerabek introduced to help students and teachers learn about the interests, likes and life circumstances of one another. Prevention research shows that having even one positive, stable relationship with a supportive adult can make all the difference in a student's resiliency and success. Beyond structuring these student-teacher cohorts, Jerabek established weekly meetings for the teacher team to focus on the success of every student in the group. Who's in jeopardy of failing their English mid-term? Who should be accelerated into AP math? Who needs a social services referral? Who's going unnoticed? Jerabek also put the school's vast student data infrastructure to work. A staff coordinator would supply teacher teams with real-time data on tardiness, absenteeism and disciplinary actions as well as any number of other seemingly unrelated points of information that, considered together, could provide insight into a student's life and how to best meet their academic, social and emotional needs. The result? The school's ninth grade failure rate was cut in half, standardized test scores improved significantly and more students enrolled in honors courses. After 10 years of sustained successes, Jerabek secured a highly competitive federal grant to investigate whether the results could be replicated in two very dissimilar high schools—an urban school in California and a rural school in Maine. Doing School Differently Randomized controlled trials demonstrated the effectiveness of the approach at both schools, resulting in improved student grade point averages, reduced failure rates and better standardized test scores. Subsequent federal grants funded expansion and evaluation of the model's effectiveness among diverse student populations and, in efforts currently underway, to scale the program for use in schools everywhere. Known today as BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks), Jerabek's school improvement model is made available nationally as part of Hazelden Publishing's prevention resources. The initial school commitment to BARR implementation involves three years of professional development, plus periodic in-person and virtual coaching, says Jennifer Remick, director of prevention for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's professional education solutions division. "BARR's approach and momentum come from the belief that, as Angie Jerabek says, great teaching starts with understanding every student as a learner and as a person. At Hazelden Publishing, we believe great prevention programs start there, too." Now available K-12 and with more than 140 BARR schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia, the program has been shown to work in schools needing a full turnaround and schools wanting to go from good to great. "Same students. Same teachers. Better results," Jerabek attests. "We're doing school differently—one student at a time." On average, BARR schools see a 34.5% reduction in failure rate after one year of implementation.