Displaying items by tag: School environment

Wednesday, 12 September 2018 13:57

Peraj Mentoring Program

*Note: The National Mentoring Resource Center makes these “Insights for Mentoring Practitioners” available for each program or practice reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. Their purpose is to give mentoring professionals additional information and understanding that can help them apply reviews to their own programs. You can read the full review on the National Mentoring Resource Center website.

In considering the key takeaways from the research on this program that other mentoring programs can apply to their work, it’s useful to reflect on the features and practices that might have influenced its rating as “Promising” (that is, a program that shows some evidence that it achieves justice-related goals when implemented with fidelity).

1. Peraj is a good example of replicating a program that has been implemented successfully in other environments.

As noted in the journal article that describes the Peraj evaluation, this national program in Mexico is actually an adaptation of the Perach program that originated in Israel in the 1970s. While the replication of the program model in Mexico required some adjustments to account for the differences in the educational systems between the two countries, one can see the benefits of not starting from scratch in the section that details the structure of Peraj and how the program functions on each college campus. The description of the central office and the duties they perform—recruitment of participants, training staff and mentors, conducting evaluation activities, securing funding, developing mentoring activities and curricula, etc.—make it very clear that roles and responsibilities in the program have been well thought and that there is a robust infrastructure designed to work well with the structure of higher education institutions across the country.

The program also offers very clear descriptions of the mentors’ role and their eligibility criteria, including how their time as mentors fits into their overall educational progression. The program, furthermore, maximizes the campus setting, by connecting mentees to other mentors who might have subject matter expertise in school subjects of interest to the mentee—essentially offering access to team mentoring within the context of a one-to-one match.

While the program may have come up with this comprehensive structure and clear roles and responsibilities on their own, building off of a successful mentoring model working in higher education in another country obviously helped Peraj find their footing more easily and set them up for the successful outcomes we see described here.

2. To achieve outcomes, you have to know what’s causing the thing you want to change.

There is a lengthy description in the evaluation article articulating exactly why Mexican youth drop out of their educational system at various points. And to be clear, the dropout issue in Mexico is a serious one: according to one study, only 36% of Mexican youth graduate high school on timei and only 52% of the 15-17 year olds in the country were even enrolled in high schoolii. Data also show that young people tend to drop out all throughout their educational progression, unlike in the United States where dropping out before the high school years is extremely rare.

Unfortunately, the authors admit that tracking youth through the Mexican educational system is extremely challenging because of the lack of standardized data systems across the nation, making it very hard to determine if children who drop out ever come back and complete school, or even determining if those who move with their families enroll in their new locations. The developers of Peraj, however, correctly recognize that leaving school early is often not caused by one factor but rather by a process that involves multiple factors over time leading up to the decision to leave school. This mirrors research from the U.S. showing that leaving school early is a lengthy process that involves many competing resilience and risk factorsiii. In fact, the little research that is available to programs like Peraj that want to address this issue in Mexico points to a number of individual, social, and educational system factors that predict leaving school early—everything from pregnancy and marriage, to joining the workforce, to struggling in school and not receiving enough academic help.

To combat this, Peraj takes a multi-pronged approach, using mentors to support the 5th and 6th graders served by the program in the areas of self-esteem, social skills, motivation, and study skills. And while these all seem helpful, and the evaluation did find evidence that the program lead to a reduction in a composite measure of dropout risk, one wonders if the intervention matches the reasons for leaving school as well as it could. First of all, the program is working with 5th and 6th graders, and while their national data shows that many of these young people are leaving school around those ages, many more will leave toward the end of middle school and throughout high school. It is unclear as to whether a program like Peraj would have lingering effects over those years as well. One can assume that if the program can get youth feeling better about school and finding some success academically, that those gains should provide some resilience against dropping out later on. But that is very unclear and one wonders if the program would even be able to track mentees over time to find out given the lack of structured data collection in the Mexican educational system.

Unfortunately, while the article does mention several factors that influence dropping out in Mexico, it does not ascribe a percentage or volume to each of these factors. In other words, it is unclear if Peraj is addressing factors that account for 25% or 75% of dropouts. It may be that other services and supports are needed to account for factors not directly addressed by the program. And it’s hard to know whether the mentoring that happens when a child is 10 or 11 years old will help them avoid reasons that clearly drive some percentage of older dropouts in Mexico, namely joining the workforce or starting one’s own family at a young age.

So while the program gets a lot of credit for trying to unpack the reasons behind the dropout crisis and counter them with a multi-faceted mentoring approach, one wonders if they might have more impact on their national issue by serving older youth or partnering with other providers to address some of those “down the road” reasons for not completing school. After all, 80% of Mexican students finish elementary school, but that drops to 60% at the end of middle school and 46% by 11th grade, well after the mentoring experience currently provided by Peraj has ended.

3. If you are going to develop a home-grown evaluation tool, Peraj offers a nice example of doing it the right way.

To conduct the evaluation described in the article, Peraj wanted to develop a composite measure of dropout risk that accounted for a variety of factors and boiled it down to one number that predicted risk. The article describes the development of the tool and how it measures eight key dimensions of dropout factors, ranging from self-control and aggression to school engagement and academic expectations. The program and its evaluators then did reliability and validity testing to make sure that the tool accurately captured information about these risk factors and could measure reductions or increases in each.

Normally, the Research Board of the National Mentoring Resource Center cautions against developing evaluation instruments from scratch (this was one of the main motivations behind the development of our Measurement Guidance Toolkit). But this evaluation offers a nice example of when that might be necessary (trying to measure many factors in one survey), as well as a process to make sure that the instrument itself is accurate and valid.

But it is also worth noting, that while this tool did predict overall, composite dropout risk, the evaluation does not report which of those eight areas measured were driving the overall reductions. While the program certainly deserves credit for the positive outcomes reported, it is frustrating that the analysis seems to have avoided looking at which factors were most important and which levers of dropout prevention the program seems most adept at pulling. This makes it hard to improve the program over time by strengthening areas where little change was noted. It also makes it hard for other programs or researchers to build on this work and perhaps emphasize similar things in their own dropout prevention work. Combined with the issue noted above about not being sure if the program is addressing the right factors to turn around the dropout crisis nationally, we are left to wonder if the program is focusing on the right things or uncovering more nuanced information about the factors that this program can and can’t address. So while Peraj certainly seems like a step in the right direction in addressing school completion issues, and very much seems like a well-structured and managed program, it may require additional research to determine if it is having the ultimate impact it hopes for.

For more information on research-informed program practices and tools for implementation, be sure to consult the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ and the "Resources for Mentoring Programs" section of the National Mentoring Resource Center site.

i Secretarıa de Educacion Publica. (2012). Reporte de la Encuesta Nacional de Desercion en la Educacion Media Superior [Report of the National Survey of High School Dropout]. Retrieved from http://www.sems.gob.mx/work/models/sems/Resource/10787/1/images/Anexo_6Reporte_de_la_ENDEMS.pdf

ii Instituto Nacional para la Evaluacion de la Educacion. (2013). Panorama Educativo de Mexico 2012. Indicadores del Sistema Educativo Nacional. Educacion Basica y Media Superior [Educational Overview of Mexico 2012. Indicators of the National Educational System. Primary and Secondary Education]. Mexico: Author.

iii Center for Promise (2015). Don’t quit on me: What young people who left school say about the power of relationships. Washington, DC: America’s Promise Alliance.

Tuesday, 02 May 2017 09:01

Practice to Research and Back Again

MAY 2, 2017

One of the things I appreciate most about being involved in mentoring research is the ability to interact with mentoring professionals that are passionate about their work, understand how to use research to improve their practice, and are not shy about letting researchers like me know the kinds of research questions they most need answers to in order to advance their work. Researcher-practitioner partnerships are becoming the norm across many fields of human services, but in my experience, the depth of these partnerships in the mentoring field is unique and exciting. The 2017 National Mentoring Summit reinforced for me both the feeling that researcher-practitioner partnerships are alive and well in the mentoring field, and the feeling that they are absolutely essential to progress in the field.

I have had the honor to be able to partner with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to carry out a Mentoring Best Practices grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to build the research base on the effectiveness of group mentoring and to build practical resources for implementing group mentoring programs for maximum effectiveness. Together with Vida Sanford and the Mentoring for Success team at SFUSD, the research team that I co-lead with Winnie Chan at Georgia State University has built a proud partnership! Our workshop at the Summit, entitled, Building Effective Group Mentoring Programs: Lessons from Research and Practice on Project Arrive sought to highlight findings from the research and learnings from implementing a high school based group mentoring program over the course of 5 years.

Published in NMRC Blog
Thursday, 14 January 2021 11:01

Project Arrive

*Note: The National Mentoring Resource Center makes these “Insights for Mentoring Practitioners” available for each program or practice reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. Their purpose is to give mentoring professionals additional information and understanding that can help them apply reviews to their own programs. You can read the full review on the Crime Solutions website.

In considering the key takeaways from the research on this program that other mentoring programs can apply to their work, it’s useful to reflect on the features and practices that might have influenced its rating as “No effects” (that is, a program that has strong evidence that it did not achieve justice-related goals).

1. Before one can evaluate, one has to clarify how to operate.

One of the interesting aspects of this evaluation is how much time and energy was spend developing an operations manual for the program that more tightly specified the intervention and programming. One doesn’t often think about manual development as a part of program evaluation, but the reality is that it can be impossible to measure the impact of something if that something is ill-defined and being done in a variety of ways. So it was imperative to the outcome evaluation that these mentoring groups be led and managed in similar ways across schools and even within schools. This reduced variability in how the program was being implemented and ensured that the evaluation was looking at one core intervention, albeit with some flexibility.

Taking the time to develop and share the manual and implementation materials also had the side benefit of giving the program some needed infrastructure that can carry the work forward even if various program leaders and key stakeholders leave. The development of a policy and procedure manual that governs how the program is implemented and clearly spells out policy choices is a critical aspect of program sustainability. It can also support program replication and dissemination. In fact, we applaud Project Arrive for making their manualized and standardized materials available to other practitioners on a publically accessible website. As noted in the evaluation, this site is visited by as many as 1,300 visitors a month from all over the world—many of whom are using the materials to develop their own versions of the program or at least incorporating key ideas. That counts as a major resource for the group mentoring field. And none of it would have been possible if they hadn’t taken the time to put all those materials online.

Programs who haven’t taken the time to fully develop a policy and procedure manual can always do so using the template provided in the Resources section of the NMRC site. Between that template and the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring that Project Arrive used as a touchstone, practitioners have everything they need to codify and tighten the implementation of their program in a formal manual—regardless of whether an evaluation is imminent.

2. Group size and composition might rally matter in these programs.

There are a few hints in the evaluation that group size was particularly important in relation to results. Smaller groups tended to rate both their relationships with their mentors and their group dynamics more favorably than larger groups, and those two results were correlated with positive outcomes on academics and resiliency in the study. Larger groups might be harder for mentors to manage and might prevent all members from fully participating due to time constraints or feelings of shyness by mentees when faced with speaking to a larger group of peers.

The number of mentors also appears to have mattered here, with youth reporting many positive benefits of having co-mentors for each group. These co-mentors often brought different skills and temperaments to the role, meaning that youth had access to a greater range of knowledge and different personalities that might be a good fit for them. Having two mentors also meant that the group could still meet if one of the mentors was absent, something that contributed greatly to the low number of missed meetings in the program.

The mentoring field has long wrestled with the question of what the right mentor-mentee ratio is for group mentoring programs. In a recent podcast about Project Arrive, lead researcher Gabe Kuperminc indicated that the most cohesive groups in this study had about 8 youth matched with those 2 mentors—a 4:1 ratio. Although programs can certainly stretch that ratio in either direction and still find success, that 4:1 ratio may be a bit of a sweet spot, where the group is still manageable, and every youth has a chance to fully participate, while still bringing enough diversity of opinion and personality that the groups are not homogenous and boring. Practitioners should think carefully about finding a group size that works for their mentors and should strongly consider having co-mentors, or even 3 or more mentors for a group. Multiple mentors may mean less chaos, more options for a close mentoring relationship, and fewer missed sessions.

3. “Curriculum with creativity” may be essential to avoiding a cookie cutter mentoring experience.

One of the interesting side notes in the evaluation report is that groups seemed to find their groove when deviating, as needed, from the prescribed curriculum of the program. Now, the curriculum itself offered a lot of choice, where mentors and youth could choose their discussion topics. So that offered some flexibility and customization right there. But some mentors went further by introducing other activities or even setting the curriculum aside for more organic conversations when warranted. For example, some mentors noted that there were times when students would arrive at the meetings upset about something that had happened in school, or in the community or on the news. These mentors recognized that what their mentees needed was a chance to process, to vent, to share with each other and to hear each other’s voices. They assessed that sticking steadfastly to the set activity for the day would not meet the needs of students and made a decision to go in a different, but more meaningful direction for that day.

In the aforementioned podcast, Dr. Kuperminc describes this deviation as “curriculum with creativity” and argues that whereas all group mentoring programs need some kind of activity-driven curriculum to guide the groups, that there are plenty of times when deviating from that curriculum and meeting youth where they are at is the right thing to do. This has the potential to prevent youth from feeling as if they are being treated like widgets to be manipulated and engages them in meeting immediate needs and processing challenging topics in a supportive, peer-focused environment.  

There were other things that groups did to customize the experience. For example, each group was free to develop little rituals and traditions that were done each time they met. These rituals contributed to the feelings of “family” that many participants spoke of. They offered not only a way of grounding the group in routine, but they also gave groups some control and autonomy over how they met and the way they ran their groups.

Unfortunately, not all mentors were adept at deviating from the curriculum in meaningful ways, and many struggled with group management and situations where going “off script” may have been warranted. In fact, the evaluation report posits that some outcomes could be strengthened with more training and supervision for mentors, which could not only strengthen the facilitation of the groups, but might also help mentors know when to deviate from the “script” and engage youth in more open conversation and sharing.

4. Improving resilience is an outcome with an ambiguous payoff.

Perhaps the most impressive findings in the report are those related to resilience outcomes. Project Arrive appears to have produced some really meaningful changes in several external areas that could boost youths’ resiliency: perceptions of school support and school belonging, school participation, and caring relationships with prosocial peers. The program was less effective with internal resiliency measures, with only problem-solving coming out with evidence of a strong positive benefit. There was even a hint that external assets were best explained through the relationship with the mentor and that internal assets were best explained by the relationship with peers in the group, suggesting that these programs are about more than just an adult-youth relationship. These groups appeared to get kids interacting with one another in ways that built resilience too.

But evidence of impact of the program on other outcomes was not so great. There were essentially null findings around juvenile justice involvement and youth grades. One might wonder why these things were not improved if the youth were making such great gains in these resiliency areas. The issue may be that resiliency is a process, not a stepping stone to other improvements. It’s a process that is activated, when something bad happens to a child and they either bounce back... or don’t. Ideally the protective factors (like the ones seemingly built up by Project Arrive) kick in in these moments and keep youth from sliding down the rabbit hole. But one can’t predict when and how those resilience factors will be called upon. The resilience assets built by the program may have helped some youth tackle immediate challenges at school. Yet, for most of the mentees, these built up factors mayl only become useful at some point in the future, when they have a negative experience where they need to draw on their assets. This highlights the strange contradictions that can happen in mentoring programs. Project Arrive may have not been doing the right things to immediately impact grades or delinquency, but they appear to have strengthened assets that can last these youth well into their future. We might never know the full impact of that boost in protective factors (although a longer-term follow-up of the program could certainly help in that regard). But it seems likely from the effect sizes reported here that they are quite meaningful.

For those who wish to learn more about the importance of viewing resilience as a process and not a set outcome, see this thoughtful blog post, also by Dr. Kuperminc.

For more information on research-informed program practices and tools for implementation, be sure to consult the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ and the "Resources" section of the National Mentoring Resource Center site.

Thursday, 14 January 2021 11:02

Project Arrive

Evidence Rating: No Effects - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on June 16, 2020

Program Summary

This is a group mentoring intervention for students at risk of drop out. The program is rated No Effects. Compared with a comparison group, participants received more credits and statistically significant higher scores in school support, belonging, and meaningful participation; peer caring relationships; prosocial peers; home meaningful participation; and problem solving; but not in rates of juvenile offenses, GPAs, instructional time received, or perceptions of home support and self-awareness.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

FEBRUARY 13, 2017

Chronic absenteeism in kindergarten, and even pre-K, can predict lower test scores, repeated patterns of poor attendance and retention in later grades, especially if the problem persists for more than a year. Students from low-income communities are especially challenged by chronic absence when their families have fewer resources to make up for lost learning time.

Attendance Works has just released a new toolkit, Relationships Matter, which is designed to help school districts establish a success mentoring program focused on attendance in elementary grades. The toolkit builds upon the ideas and resources from a number of national partners, especially MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Everyone Graduates Center, the New York City Department of Education, and the Center for Supportive Schools.

Published in NMRC Blog
Friday, 19 August 2016 10:22

Rochester Resilience Project

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on September 10, 2014

Program Summary

A school-based intervention to improve the social-emotional and behavioral skills of young children (K – 3rd grade) at risk for mental health disorders and substance abuse. This program is rated Promising. The program had a significant, positive effect on measures of children’s task orientation, behavior control, assertiveness, and peer social skills. The program was also associated with a significant decline in the average numbers of suspensions and office disciplinary referrals.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

Monday, 20 October 2014 09:10

Rochester Resilience Project

*Note: The National Mentoring Resource Center makes these “Insights for Mentoring Practitioners” available for each program or practice reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. Their purpose is to give mentoring professionals additional information and understanding that can help them apply reviews to their own programs. You can read the full review on the Crime Solutions website.

In considering the key takeaways from the research on this program that other mentoring programs can apply to their work, it’s useful to reflect on features and practices might have influenced its rating as “Promising” (that is, a program that shows encouraging, but not definitive evidence of effectiveness).

Can a mentoring program with some non-traditional components be effective?

When looking at the research on the Rochester Resilience Project, it becomes immediately clear that this program is structured and delivered in a way that sets it apart from many youth mentoring programs. The mentors in this program are not volunteers, but rather are paraprofessionals (school district employees), trained to deliver a very specific curriculum intended to produce specific behavioral changes in children who are struggling with regulating their emotions and emotional reactions to conflict. Rather than spending the majority of their time engaged in activities intended to build trust and bonding, these mentors, are all tasked with using a curriculum to deliver a series of hierarchically-ordered skills trainings to their mentees in weekly, 25-minute one-on-one sessions. With 111 children in the intervention group in this research, it is assumed that each mentor was working with over 25 students. Over the course of the 14 weeks of the program, each student met with his or her mentor for approximately only seven total hours. The short duration, emphasis of sequential activities, the tightly-focused curriculum, the mentor-mentee ratio, and paid professional status of the mentors are all elements that differ from what we typically see in school-based mentoring programs.

But results from evaluations of programs like this should get practitioners thinking about how their mentoring programs produce results and challenging some assumptions about what mentoring “should” look like to be effective. It’s worth noting, for example, that this program utilizes a curriculum built on a wealth of research on how children can manage their emotions, understand the emotions of others, and change their behavior to avoid conflicts with peers and teachers. Rather than assuming that mentors will inherently have impactful conversations about these topics, this program uses a set curriculum that addresses: 1) Monitoring of one’s own and others’ emotions; 2) Self-control and reducing escalation of emotions; and 3) Skills for maintaining control and equilibrium. If mentoring programs really want to produce targeted outcomes, it’s worth considering the integration of targeted curricula and more structured meetings, rather than working from the assumption that positive outcomes will inherently flow from a positive mentoring relationship.

Can mentoring work with younger students?

In the case of the Rochester Resilience Project, the answer seems to be yes. Most school-based mentoring programs seem to serve students starting in about grade 5, with middle and high school students being perhaps the most common age ranges. There are several reasons for this: younger students may not have displayed the behavioral or attitudinal challenges that mentoring could address and young children may be less well-equipped developmentally to understand the role and value of a mentor. But this program targeted children in the K-3 range and produced significant impacts. When working with children of this age, a hierarchical curriculum like the one used here may be a key factor in producing results. A curriculum like this builds skills slowly and sequentially, allowing the student to absorb and understand a lesson and then practice new skills in the classroom setting. The close coordination of the lessons with teachers, intended to enlist teachers in reinforcing the skills being taught back in the classroom setting, may also have been a key to making this program work for younger students.

Can focusing on social-emotional skills pay off in the classroom?

This program targets young students who have just begun showing the kinds of emotional and behavioral problems that would lead to classroom and academic struggles down the road. In some ways, this is a very early intervention for these students, an attempt to teach and build skills for regulating emotions and behaviors that, ideally, will serve these students over their long journey through the school system. In the short term, the mentored students stayed on task in the classroom more than their non-mentored peers and had fewer disciplinary issues and suspensions. So clearly this program had an immediate impact on classroom behavior and positioning these students for more success at school. By helping these children learn to manage their emotions and behaviors more effectively, the program may have set the stage for a lifetime of better behavior and stronger relationships with peers and adults, both in and out of school. It would be wonderful to see a long-term follow up with these students to see if indeed their new skills and ways of behaving have a lasting effect later in elementary school and beyond.

For more information on research-informed program practices and tools for implementation, be sure to consult the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ and the "Resourcessection of the National Mentoring Resource Center site.

*Note: The National Mentoring Resource Center makes these “Insights for Mentoring Practitioners” available for each program or practice reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. Their purpose is to give mentoring professionals additional information and understanding that can help them apply reviews to their own programs. You can read the full review on the CrimeSolutions.gov website.

Note: The Crime Solutions review of this program was not conducted by the National Mentoring Resource Center’s Research Board, but we have included these insights as the program does fall within the definitional scope of mentoring for inclusion here.

In considering the key takeaways from the research on this program that other mentoring programs can apply to their work, it’s useful to reflect on the features and practices that might have influenced its rating as “Promising” (that is, a program that shows some evidence of effectiveness).

1. Multi-component programming might be a good approach for applying mentoring to issues of substance abuse.

One of the core findings from the landmark Big Brothers Big Sisters evaluation in the mid-1990s was that mentored youth were less likely to begin using drugs over the period of the study. This has led both policymakers and practitioners to conclude that mentoring programs are inherently effective at helping young people avoid using, or stop using, alcohol, drugs, and other harmful substances. But the larger body of research over time has painted a much more complicated picture, with some mentoring interventions having some success of preventing or halting substance use, while others have failed to do so. In keeping with this pattern, substance use was one of the few outcome categories in DuBois and colleagues’ 2011 meta-analysis of mentoring program evaluation studies that did not show an overall positive impact.

Perhaps one of the reasons that mentoring programs have not been more effective in addressing this particular issue is that the research on drug prevention programs more broadly indicates that they work best when they incorporate several strategies simultaneously to address the many and complex reasons why a young person might turn to drugs or alcohol. The authors of this study noted that the SAM program was designed to offer youth as many “research-proven techniques” as possible: reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors, targeting multiple drugs, addressing developmental and cultural factors, interactive teaching, peer mentoring, and community involvement. These last two speak to the involvement of both peer and community adult mentors in the program. But the core prevention work of the program was in monthly group lessons built on solution-focused therapy and action learning. Mentoring was essentially an addition to a suite of other support activities (mentors attended the group sessions, but directly led only 4 of the 16 sessions).

Mentoring programs that want to emphasize substance use outcomes may want to take a cue from this program’s design. Rather than asking mentors to help youth tackle these issues on their own, programs might want to incorporate an evidence-based substance abuse prevention program, particularly group approaches that foster peer reinforcement and are led by staff or other adults. The authors note that “best results may be obtained with programs consisting of multiple components,” with a special emphasis placed on the social components of peer and adult mentoring that supplement a psychological intervention (such as solution-focused brief therapy, in this instance).

So rather than asking mentors to be a one-person drug prevention program, mentoring programs seemingly stand to make more progress on this outcome by incorporating other prevention strategies and interventions that can address reasons for substance use in a more direct way. This frees up mentors to focus on relational supports that reinforce that core substance use prevention work. Practitioners looking for an evidence-based intervention they could scaffold mentoring around might want to consult a clearinghouse for such programs, such as the always-helpful National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), CrimeSolutions.gov, or one of the other databases of interventions listed here.

2. Highlight your program’s emphasis on specific and appropriate measurement tools.

One of the top challenges mentoring programs face involves how to evaluate the delivery and impact of their programs (MENTOR’s 2016 national survey of mentoring programs found that over a quarter of programs indicated low evaluation capacity was a main concern). Even programs that know what outcomes are most worthy of being tracked have difficulty finding and selecting appropriate measurement tools for those outcomes. This reality was one of the main motivators for building the Measurement Guidance Toolkit for the National Mentoring Resource Center, which aims to solve this very problem.

The article describing the evaluation of the SAM program does an excellent job of detailing the measures that were relevant to SAM (attitudes about drugs, actual use, knowledge about drugs, self-esteem, etc.) as well as the characteristics of the specific instruments they selected. The authors even included things like validity scores and prior uses of the instruments in other studies. These measurement instruments may be useful to other programs that want to focus on substance use outcomes and it’s great to see the authors share so much information about each. While they didn’t include information about why they selected these particular instruments over other options, the rich descriptions of the outcomes they felt spoke to program activities and the details about the quality of each of the instruments will be helpful to others working in this space.

For more information on research-informed program practices and tools for implementation, be sure to consult the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ and the "Resources for Mentoring Programs" section of the National Mentoring Resource Center site. 

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on December 07, 2017

Program Summary

This is a school-based, substance-use-prevention program for adolescent girls, which uses solution-focused brief therapy and community and peer mentorship. The program is rated Promising. Program participation was shown to have a statistically significant effect on lowering drug use, improving social competence, increasing knowledge surrounding drug use, and increasing negative attitudes toward drug use. The program had no statistically significant effect on grade point average or self-esteem.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

JUNE 26, 2018

School AttendanceIn my work as a Program Director at MENTOR, I talk about mentoring with many different audiences, with the goal of ensuring that caring adults serving as mentors, and the programs that support them, have access to high quality resources and tools that equip them to be effective partners, allies, supports and friends to the young people they serve. At MENTOR, we believe that all young people need and deserve to have mentors who support, encourage, and celebrate them as they navigate life’s challenges and experiences and realize their potential. Across all the adults I have spoken to, there tends to be agreement that mentors have made all the difference in our lives, no matter where we found them – in school, on the sports field, in a formal mentoring program, or just informally in our neighborhoods and communities. Those who had mentors at critical times in life when support and inspiration were needed often share with me that this changed everything for them, while who did not often share that it would have.

Published in NMRC Blog
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