The Minneapolis-based BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) Center has announced a five-year, $13 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand the reach and national impact of its personalized data-driven education model.
The funding will support development of Networks for School Improvement (NSI), which is focused on increasing on-track, college-ready rates for African-American and Latinx students as well as those from low-income families in grades 11 and 12. To that end, NSI will focus on improving grade-point averages, proficiency in math and English, and advanced course taking while working to reduce course failures in grades 9 and 10.
The program will be introduced initially in thirty schools in California and the Midwest, some of which have had experience implementing the model in ninth grade. Funding also will help the center identify the most effective strategies, review multiple indicators, and support participating schools using specific and continuous improvement strategies.
"Too often, our current educational practices expect more from less, punish schools for failing to achieve, and create barriers for students farthest from opportunity," said BARR Center executive director Angela Jerabek. "This is a two-hundred-year-old point of view. Our society has evolved and grown and so should our education system. BARR believes that not only is education a right, but success in education is a right. We have the information, knowledge, and understanding as a society to build successful people. We have to understand them as individuals, give them actionable opportunities, and catch them when they stumble or fall. We can do this with the same teachers, the same students, and achieve better results."