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Advisory Programs
March 2019


What does the research say about the impact of middle and high school advisory programs on student outcomes?

Ask A REL Response

Thank you for your request to our Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 RELs that, by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. Ask A REL provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations in response to questions about available education research.

Following an established REL Northwest research protocol, we conducted a search for evidence- based research. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, Google Scholar, and general Internet search engines. For more details, please see the methods section at the end of this document.

The research team has not evaluated the quality of the references and resources provided in this response; we offer them only for your reference. The search included the most commonly used research databases and search engines to produce the references presented here. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The research references are not necessarily comprehensive and other relevant research references may exist. In addition to evidence-based, peer-reviewed research references, we have also included other resources that you may find useful. We provide only publicly available resources, unless there is a lack of such resources or an article is considered seminal in the topic area.


D'Amore, E., & Clayton, E. (2012). The restructuring and implementation of an effective middle school advisory model (Master’s thesis, Notre Dame College).

From the Abstract:
"The purpose of this action research study was to restructure and implement an effective middle school advisory model. This was conducted at a Middle School in Painesville Township, Ohio consisting of approximately 800 students...There was a comparison made to a control group within the same school. The study showed positive impacts on attitude, behavior, attendance and academic success."

Lindsay, J., Davis, E., Stephan, J., & Proger, A. (2017). Impacts of Ramp-Up to Readiness™ after one year of implementation (REL 2017-241). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest.

From the Abstract:
"To better enable middle and high schools to increase college participation and success rates among their students, the University of Minnesota's College Readiness Consortium developed Ramp-Up to Readiness™ (Ramp-Up), a schoolwide advisory program to increase students' likelihood of college enrollment and completion by enhancing five dimensions of college readiness (academic, admissions, career, financial, and personal-social) among middle school and high school students. As of 2016, the program has been rolled out in 150 middle and high schools throughout Minnesota, but little information is available on the program's effectiveness."

McClure, L., Yonezawa, S., & Jones, M. (2010). Can school structures improve teacher-student relationships? The relationship between advisory programs, personalization and students’ academic achievement. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 18(17), 1–21. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This study focused on the relationships between student-perceived levels of personalization, students’ opinions about advisory period, and academic outcomes."

Moeder-Chandler, M. (2018). School counselor-led school-wide advisory program effectiveness. SAGE Open, 8(3). Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"In the fall of 2013, Fountain-Fort Carson High School implemented a new 'Advisory Period’ for all students at all grade levels. Incoming ninth-grade students were randomly assigned a faculty advisor and stayed with the advisor over the course of their 4 years of high school. School counselors wrote the Advisory programming which included academic and attendance progress monitoring in addition to mentorship with the intent to connect student with a caring adult to positively impact graduation and attendance rates while reducing dropout rates ... The variations in graduation rates between groups of students that did not have Advisory and those who did were shown to be statistically insignificant."

Niska, J. M. (2013). A study of the impact of professional development on middle level advisors. RMLE Online: Research in Middle Level Education, 37(5), 1–14.

From the Abstract:
"Middle level advisors are faculty members whose role is to develop meaningful relationships and to facilitate conversations with a group of 10 to 12 students on a regular basis regarding the students' academic, personal, and social concerns. This study examines the impact of professional development on middle level advisors' knowledge, skills, and practices in five New England middle level schools."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources: Advisor OR Advisory or Advisories, Middle School AND High school, Secondary, Outcomes, Impact

Databases and Resources: We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Research Complete, and Professional Development Collection).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of publications: This search and review included references and resources published in the last 10 years.

Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority was given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, as well as academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, and Google Scholar.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references:

  • Study types: randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, and policy briefs, generally in this order
  • Target population and samples: representativeness of the target population, sample size, and whether participants volunteered or were randomly selected
  • Study duration
  • Limitations and generalizability of the findings and conclusions

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest. It was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by REL Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.