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Study Cites Benefits of College Mentoring Programs

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College students who take part in tutoring and mentoring programs generally improve the academic performance of the disadvantaged students with whom they work, a study by the U.S. Department of Education concludes.

The study, which was required by the Congress, reviewed a representative sample of the tutoring and mentoring programs run by about a third of the nation's colleges and universities for disadvantaged elementary and secondary students.

The study, which covered the 1987-88 school year, found that more than 63,000 college students, primarily unpaid volunteers, worked with about 200,000 K-12 students.

The report suggests that highly structured programs are the most effective. Successful programs, it says, are those that: require a longommitment from both the tutor or mentor and the youth; thoroughly screen the college students and then carefully match them with the K-12 students; ensure that the tutor or mentor is trained and monitored; and are based on a close relationship between a school system and a college or university.

The study indicates that out of the 19 programs reviewed for effectiveness, 11 reported improvement in the test scores, grades, or academic performance of the K-12 students as a result of the mentoring or tutoring project.

But the report also notes that a college or university may have a very different perception of the effectiveness of a program than does its public-school counterpart. While tutors who participated in a program between Georgetown University and the District of Columbia schools rated their students' progress as "high," it points out, public-school teachers reported that participants' academic progress was "slow."

Although the report does not recommend that additional federal funds be earmarked for tutoring and mentoring programs, it notes that Chapter 1 grants can help underwrite such projects. Colleges and universities that want to pay students for tutoring or mentoring should consider tapping into the federal College Work Study Program, the report suggests.

Copies of the study, "Review of Programs Involving College Students as Tutors or Mentors in Grades K-12," are available from the Office of Planning, Budget, and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., Room 4049, Washington, D.C. 20202-4110.--EF

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