Academic performance

Scale: Academic Performance

What it measures:

  • The youth’s academic performance in four subject areas.

Intended age range: 8- to 18-year-olds.

Brief description: This measure consists of the following set of questions: Think back to the grades or marks you got on your most recent report card. Please check the box that shows how you did in each subject. The four subjects are listed as: “Math”, “English or Language Arts”, “Social Studies or History” and “Science." Response choices are F (Not good at all), D (Not so good), C (Okay), B (Good), A (Excellent), or I don’t have this subject in school.

Rationale: Variations of this measure have been used in several large-scale mentoring studies and in the Youth Outcomes Survey administered by Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies nationwide, and at least one study has reported mentoring program impacts on this measure. Research comparing responses to this question to actual report card data found a modest correlation with overall actual GPA and grades in individual subject areas. The version provided here is simplified from that used in prior work.

Cautions: Similar to findings in other studies comparing self-reported grades to actual grades, research using an earlier version of this measure found that relatively low performers (and younger youth) tended to be less accurate in their reports. Thus, findings for these groups should be viewed with caution. Also, as noted, although researchers have found modest correlations with actual grades, this association is not particularly strong. Thus, programs should consider self-reported grades only if they do not have easy access to report cards.

Special administration information: None.

How to score: Responses are scored from 1 (F or Not good at all) to 5 (A or Excellent). Responses to individual items on this measure can be used to assess academic performance in individual subject areas. The youth’s overall academic performance, analogous to a GPA, can be computed by averaging the youth’s responses across all items.

How to interpret findings: Higher scores reflect better overall academic performance.

Access and permissions: The measure is available for non-commercial use with no charge and is made available here.

Alternatives: Most available self-report measures of academic performance are very similar to this one or ask youth to report their actual GPA, which is more appropriate for older students. Options other than self-report include obtaining school records of actual grades and having teachers or parents report on the youth’s academic performance.

Citation: Herrera, C., DuBois, D. L., & Grossman, J. B. (2013). The role of risk: Mentoring experiences and outcomes for youth with varying risk profiles. New York, NY: A Public/Private Ventures project published by MDRC. (Accessible here.)

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