“He remembers what we talk about.”
This simple statement is the profound summation of the impact one child’s mentor has had this year, as reported by one of the Seedling mentees who participated in our annual evaluation. Each spring, Seedling conducts surveys of mentors, mentees, teachers, and school contacts, as well as analyzing data related to academic outcomes. We are assisted in this effort by Dr. Karen Looby, a senior Evaluation Supervisor for Austin ISD.
Do you wonder if you are making a difference?
Absolutely, you are! What exactly do the students have to say? How do they measure compared to a control group of other at-risk students attending the same schools?
Among the highly positive findings from the student surveys were that most of the children;
- felt happy and important when they were with their mentors
- trusted their mentors
- believed their mentors listened to them and were supportive
- looked forward to seeing their mentors
What about academic outcomes?
Seedling mentees had similar attendance rates, compared with other students attending the same schools. This finding is considered positive, given that the mentees are a highly mobile population and may be experiencing circumstances that negatively influence regular school attendance. Further, mentees reported on their surveys that they tried to be in school on the days their mentors were scheduled to visit.
Although a higher percentage of Seedling mentees had discipline infractions compared with their peers, the average and maximum number of offenses decreased from the previous year for Seedling mentees.
They tended to get into the same type of “trouble” as their peers, with most of their offenses being low-level in nature. These findings are considered positive, as research indicates that children with incarcerated parents are more likely to exhibit physical aggression and classroom behavior difficulties than their peers (Trzcinski, E., Satayanathan, D., and Ferro, L., 2002).
In TAKS scores, Seedling mentees performed similarly to their peers, a finding considered positive since children who have incarcerated parents often encounter additional challenges to their academic growth, e.g. irregular attendance, mobility, discipline issues, preoccupation with home circumstances, etc.
These results are similar to the gratifying news we have received each year the program has existed. Click to read the Seedling’s Mentor Program Evaluation Report by Karen Looby, PhD.
Thank you for your contribution to these important outcomes!
~Falba Turner, Director of Mentor Programs – Seedling Foundation