School-Based Mentoring: A Closer Look

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School-BasedMentoring:A CLOSER LOOKCarla HerreraA P u b l i c a t i o n o f P u b l i c / P r i v a t e Ve n t u re s

School-BasedMentoring:A CLOSER LOOKCarla HerreraA P u b l i c a t i o n o f P u b l i c / P r i v a t e Ve n t u re s

iiPublic/Private Ventures is a nationalnonprofit organization that seeks toimprove the effectiveness of socialpolicies and programs. P/PV designs,tests and studies initiatives thatincrease supports, skills and opportunities of residents of low-incomecommunities; works with policymakersto see that the lessons and evidenceproduced are reflected in policy; andprovides training, technical assistance and learning opportunities topractitioners based on documentedeffective practices.School-Based Mentoring: A Closer LookBoard of DirectorsSiobhan Nicolau, ChairPresidentHispanic Policy Development ProjectGary WalkerPresidentPublic/Private VenturesAmalia BetanzosPresidentWildcat Service CorporationYvonne ChanPrincipalVaughn Learning CenterMitchell S. FromsteinChairman EmeritusManpower Inc.Christine L. James-BrownPresident and CEOUnited Way InternationalJohn A. Mayer, Jr.Retired, Chief Financial OfficerJ.P. Morgan & Co.Matthew McGuireVice PresidentAriel Capital Management, Inc.Maurice Lim MillerDirectorFamily Independence InitiativeAnne Hodges MorganConsultant to FoundationsMarion PinesSenior FellowInstitute for Policy StudiesJohns Hopkins UniversityCay StrattonDirectorNational Employment Panel,London, U.K.William Julius WilsonLewis P. and Linda L. GeyserUniversity ProfessorHarvard UniversityResearch AdvisoryCommitteeJacquelynne S. Eccles, ChairUniversity of MichiganRonald FergusonKennedy School of GovernmentRobinson HollisterSwarthmore CollegeAlan KruegerPrinceton UniversityReed LarsonUniversity of IllinoisMilbrey W. McLaughlinStanford UniversityKatherine S. NewmanKennedy School of GovernmentLaurence SteinbergTemple UniversityThomas WeisnerUCLA

School-Based Mentoring: A Closer LookiiiAcknowledgmentsThis research was made possible by a grant fromThe Atlantic Philanthropies.Thanks also go to the three organizations that wereinvolved in the study: BBBS of Delaware, Inc.; BBBSof Green Country in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and BBBS ofNorth Florida, Inc., in Jacksonville, Florida. MaryFox from Delaware, Erin Edwards and Beverly Filerfrom Jacksonville, and Cecilia Patterson and JohnJacobs from Tulsa were particularly helpful. MaryFox, Jamie Ingraham, Anne Senyard and JamieBarden served as on-site researchers, collecting thesurveys that contributed to this report. The reportwould not have been possible without all the mentors, youth, teachers and case managers who completed our surveys.The efforts of several individuals were crucial tocompleting the report. Jean Grossman providedguidance throughout the project. She helpeddevelop the research questions and design theapproach to answering them. Zoua Vang and BrianKantorek helped oversee survey administration anddata collection. Both Jun Zhang and Sarah Pepperconducted the statistical analyses that addressedseveral of our research questions. Jean Grossman,Laurie Kotloff and Gary Walker reviewed drafts ofthe report and provided comments that helpedstructure the final text. Joyce Corlett and KeokiHansen from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America(BBBSA) also reviewed the report and contributedto the study’s design. Karen Walker, as always, didan amazing job of guiding the study through to itsfinal form, including reviewing the report and providing helpful guidance and feedback throughoutits development.Two individuals deserve special mention for theirrole in this project. Amanda Bayer provided therigor behind the analyses testing the benefits ofschool-based mentoring and gave patient guidanceand statistical expertise through many months ofdata analysis. She helped develop and refine ourstrategy for testing benefits, developed and conducted all analyses to test our questions more rigorously and address concerns of bias, sifted throughthousands of pages of output to interpret theseanalyses, and wrote Appendix D, which describesthese tests. Linda Jucovy was more than an excellent editor for this project; she managed to translate pages and pages of research findings into acoherent story. She developed the final structureand organization of the report. She also helpedthink through and synthesize reviewers’ feedbackand served as an invaluable partner during the lastphases of the project.Tina Johnson and Edward Moran provided finalcopyediting. Malish & Pagonis designed the reportand Chelsea Farley coordinated its publication.

ivSchool-Based Mentoring: A Closer Look

School-Based Mentoring: A Closer LookvTable of ContentsChapter I: Introduction1Chapter II: Who Are the Youth Involved in These Programs?5Chapter III: What Are the Characteristics of the Mentor-Youth Matches?9Chapter IV: What Is the Quality of the Mentor-Youth Relationships?13Chapter V: What Kinds of Benefits May Youth Gain from Involvement?17Chapter VI: Conclusions25Endnotes29References31Appendices33A: Methodology34B: Survey Scales and Constructs35C: What Can This Study Tell Us About Self-Assessment and Evaluation?38D: The Econometric Analysis of the Benefits of School-Based Mentoring (by Amanda Bayer)39Appendices Endnotes42

School-Based Mentoring: A Closer Look

IntroductionChapter I

2Mentoring has seen remarkablepublicity and popularity in recent years. This can beattributed both to its common-sense appeal—youngpeople need supportive relationships with adults tofoster their development—and to recent evidencesupporting the social and academic benefits ofmentoring (Tierney and Grossman, 1995). Yet, onthe ground, traditional, community-based programshave difficulty finding volunteers to meet with themany youth who could benefit from their guidanceand friendship.Many potential volunteers do not want to make along-term commitment, while others dislike thelogistical burden of meeting a child at differentplaces in the community or prefer more structuredinteractions for which they do not have to plan aset of activities. Still others are uncomfortable withthe “pure friendship” focus of community-basedmentoring relationships.At the same time, increasing pressure on schools toimprove academic performance and meet academicstandards has compelled these institutions to lookfor ways to help students succeed. Mentoring couldhelp fill this need. It provides youth with one-onone attention—attention that can easily be tailoredto a child’s specific needs—and has a proven trackrecord of bolstering youth’s academic performance.This combination of obstacle and need has contributed to the development and rapid growthof school-based approaches to mentoring. Suchapproaches offer volunteers the option of developing shorter-term relationships with youth in a relatively structured, supervised environment. They alsoallow volunteers to meet with youth in a set placewithout having to coordinate transportation andactivities. And, they offer schools a low-cost way tohelp youth succeed.Many mentoring agencies are thus forging relationships with schools in their communities to developprograms in which children are mentored duringthe school day, engaging with their mentor in bothacademic and social activities for about one hourSchool-Based Mentoring: A Closer Looka week. This approach is growing rapidly nationwide, particularly in Big Brothers Big Sisters ofAmerica (BBBSA), the largest and longest-operatingmentoring program in the country. The number ofBBBS school-based matches grew from 27,000 in1999 to 90,000 in 2002, an increase of 233 percent.This compares with an 8.7 percent increase incommunity-based matches—from 92,000 to 100,000—during the same period.P/PV has published two recent reports on theschool-based mentoring (SBM) model. In the first(Herrera, 1999), we visited two BBBS SBM programsand described the approach, the mentors and youthinvolved, and some of the implications for thematch of meeting in the school setting. In the second, we surveyed mentors from school-based andcommunity-based programs nationwide to learnmore about mentors’ views on relationship development in both contexts (Herrera et al., 2000).These studies yielded some promising findingsabout SBM. First, similar to recent findings byBBBSA (Curtis and Hansen, 1999), we found thatschool-based programs are reaching many volunteerswho might not have been reached by communitybased programs. School-based mentors are morelikely to be ethnic minorities than mentors in community-based programs, and are more likely to fallinto older (50 or over) and younger (21 or under)age groups, due, in part, to fewer transportationrequirements for mentors in site-based programs.Involving new groups of volunteers means thatschool-based programs are reaching people whootherwise might not have become mentors and thatthese programs are complementing, rather thancompeting with, community-based programs for thisscarce resource.Second, because school staff instead of parentsusually refer youth to SBM programs—referringtheir most needy students who often lack parentalsupport—the studies suggest that these programsmay be reaching underserved groups of youth whooften have academic, social or behavioral problems (Curtis and Hansen, 1999; Herrera, 1999).

IntroductionBBBSA recently reported that these youth may alsodiffer demographically: school-based programs intheir study served younger youth, more boys, moreminority youth and more youth from two-parentfamilies than community-based programs (Curtisand Hansen, 1999).Third, we found that strong relationships can beformed in this context. Although the relationshipsdeveloped in school-based programs are, on average, less close than those developed in communitybased programs, a sizable number (about a third)of school-based mentors (compared to 45 percentof community-based mentors) feel very close totheir mentees (Herrera et al., 2000). School-basedrelationships are also comparable to those incommunity-based programs in mentors’ reportsof efforts to provide youth with support.Finally, and most importantly, we found some preliminary indications that youth may benefit bothacademically and socially from SBM programs.Other studies also support the potential effectiveness of this approach. For example, a recent studyby BBBSA shows decreases in grade retention andtardiness, as well as improvements in attendance,grades and classroom participation (Hansen, 2001).But studies also suggest that benefits only accrueafter relationships have had a chance to develop. Leeand Cramond (1999), for example, found that onlyyouth matched for more than one year increased intheir levels of aspiration. And in a study by Slickerand Palmer (1993), youth who met with their schoolbased mentors at least three times a week had lowerdropout rates than youth who were never matchedwith a mentor, while youth whose matches terminated prematurely had lower self-concept scoresthan youth in the control group. These findings onthe length of relationships and frequency of meetings have important implications for the potentialbenefits of SBM programs, because school-basedmatches are generally restricted to meetings duringthe school year and, in most cases, those meetingsoccur just once a week.3This study follows up on some of the issues raised inthese recent evaluations. By surveying youth, mentors, teachers and case managers from three BBBSschool-based programs, including the two programsinvolved in P/PV’s 1999 study, we hoped to delvemore deeply into some of the areas addressed inour earlier report as well as issues examined in otherrecent studies. Our goal was to provide greaterinsight into SBM before a more definitive impactstudy is conducted.In particular, we were able to more fully addressseveral questions hinted at in our initial studies,including:1. What are the characteristics of mentor-youthmatches in school-based programs?School-based matches are generally consideredto differ from those in community-based programs in several ways, including how mentorsand youth are matched, how long matches lastand what activities the mentors and youth engagein together. This report describes those characteristics for the matches in our sample.2. What is the quality of the relationships?Although Herrera et al. (2000) described relationships in SBM programs, they measuredrelationship quality from only the mentor’s perspective. This report also describes the youth’sperspective and discusses factors—including thementor’s approach, support from the agencyand the school, and matching criteria—that mayaffect the quality of the mentor-youth relationship.3. What kinds of benefits may be gained frominvolvement?Although a few studies have provided somepreliminary evidence of the effectiveness of SBM,most have focused on fairly limited outcomes,including attendance, grades and self-esteem.This study looks at a range of potential benefits—including youth’s attitude toward school, classroombehavior, school effort, parent involvement andpeer relationships—in order to discern what outcomes SBM seems likely to affect. Because studiessuggest that match duration is an important

4School-Based Mentoring: A Closer Lookfactor in youth benefits, we examine associationsbetween the length of the match and changes inthe youth.To address these questions, we surveyed youth andteachers at the beginning and end of the 19992000 school year in three BBBS school-based programs. Additionally, mentors and case managerswere surveyed at the end of the school year. Youthand teacher surveys were administered by on-siteresearchers;1 all other surveys were administeredby mail. The surveys were brief, asking about topicsthat included youth’s academic and social behaviorand attitudes, qualities of the mentor-youth relationship and activities the pair engaged in, as wellas the provision of support by the BBBS agency andschool staff. (For more information on our methodology, response rates and the content of these surveys,