This study employs a student-level random assignment design. Specifically, the current evaluation focuses on the impacts of the Student Mentoring Program on students randomly assigned to participate in the ED-funded programs compared to similar students who signed up to participate but were not assigned to participate in the programs.3 Thus, the study provides experimentally-based evidence about the efficacy of school-based mentoring programs when implemented by a variety of sponsoring organizations.
The key research questions that the evaluation addresses are:
The sampling pool for this evaluation was based on 255 mentoring programs funded by ED in either 2004 or 2005. The study collected and aggregated data from two cohorts of students: one from the 2005–2006 school year and another from the 2006–2007 school year. The original evaluation design was based on only one cohort. The sample size calculations for this design were based on the assumption that mentoring would be provided to students for an entire school year. When it became apparent after the first program year, however, that the average amount of mentoring was much shorter (i.e., between five and six months) it was decided that in order to conduct a fair test of the program, a larger sample would be needed to detect a smaller effect size. Thus, two cohorts of students were recruited to reach the necessary sample size.
To be selected for the Impact Study, each grantee had to meet three criteria: