Students who participated in federally financed school-based mentoring programs were on average no more likely to succeed academically, attend school regularly, or avoid delinquent behaviors than those who did not, a report concludes.
Using an experimental design, researchers studied the effects of 32 federal student-mentoring programs funded through the No Child Left Behind Act on a sample of 1,272 students.
Those students were randomly assigned to take part in the programs and their outcomes were compared with those of 1,301 students who signed up to participate, but were assigned to a control group.
An analysis of the data gleaned from student surveys and from school records revealed that overall, the programs did not noticeably improve student achievement, decrease rates of student truancy or misconduct, or yield more positive social behaviors.
The programs did yield some effects in certain subgroups. Girls who took part in the program, for instance, reported that they felt more confident in their ability to succeed in school compared with students who did not participate.
Students younger than 12 were less likely to be truant, compared with those in the control group.
However, boys involved in the mentoring had lower scores on the measure of positive social behavior than those who did not.
The mentors typically met with their students one on one, and mentoring time averaged about an hour a week. Because of delays matching students and teachers, the average length of a relationship was 5.8 months, less than the full year advocated by experts in the mentoring community.
The report says that the findings cannot be extrapolated to other federally funded student mentoring programs.
A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 2009 edition of Education Week