Little impact seen from student mentor programs

Student-mentoring programs had no significant impact on students’ academic achievement and engagement, interpersonal relationships and high-risk or delinquent behaviors, according to a Department of Education impact study. However, the study of 32 student-mentoring program and 2,573 students in grades 4-8 did find different impacts for girls and boys.

Mentoring programs showed some benefits for girls and mixed results for boys in subgroup analyses. Girls with mentors self-reported higher scholastic efficacy and better school bonding and pro-social behaviors, the study says. While boys with mentors had more of a future orientation (as did girls), they had lower scores on pro-social behavior scales than controls. Younger students with mentors (below the age of 12) had a decrease in truancy compared to their control group peers.

The researchers measured a total of 17 outcomes in the domains of interpersonal relationships and personal responsibility, academic achievement and engagement, and high-risk or delinquent behavior to evaluate the impact of student mentor programs.

Mentors, on average, reported meeting with their students, on a weekly basis for approximately one hour per meeting. For students who were matched with mentors, the average length of the relationship was 5.8 months. Controls were students who were wait-listed for mentors. Because 35% of the control group students reported receiving mentoring either from the school-based program or elsewhere in the community and because some treatment group students did not meet with a mentor, the treatment contrast was reduced, the researchers note.

“Impact Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program,” Lawrence Bernstein et al, Institute of Education Sciences, March 2009.

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