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Mentoring in Schools: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters School Based Mentoring

February 2011

Carla Herrera, Jean Baldwin Grossman, Tina J. Kauh, Jennifer McMaken


This randomized experiment tests the impact of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program on students. Students in 10 cities across the country were randomly assigned into two groups: one participating in the program, and one not participating. At the end of the first academic year, participants in the program had greater academic performance and more positive self-perceptions of their own academic performance. However, half-way through the second academic year, mentored students’ performance declined, and became statistically indistinguishable from the non-mentored group.

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Policy Implications

These results suggest that benefits gained from a mentoring program may quickly disappear after the conclusion of the mentoring (the authors attribute some of the loss of benefit in the second year to the lack of mentoring over summer break). Policies looking to substantially increase student performance may wish to focus on more long-term, permanent interventions.

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