Early intervention; mentoring; tutoring; schools
Public schools today are becoming populated with increasingly diverse student bodies. These unique backgrounds include differences in race, ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic status. While this diversity can lead to positive social outcomes, it creates an issue of achievement gaps. Challenges students may face at home can cause academic difficulties, placing some learners behind others in a classroom. With increasing class size, teachers have less ability to give one-on-one time or even slow down lessons. As a result, only a small number of students finish senior year of high school at a level that makes them prepared to enter college (Bettinger, Boatman & Long, 2013).
Of course, this lack of preparedness results in multiple challenges for students. To help fill in the gaps, a growing number of entering freshman are placed into remedial or developmental courses. These classes include tutoring and mentoring, but do not provide the student with college credit. Therefore, it is very costly and timely for both the institution and the student.
Earlier intervention is the solution to this major problem that schools are facing today. Mentoring programs in high schools, or even in primary education, can provide students with the one-on-one attention that they are unable to receive in the classroom. Teaching high school students organization and study skills, and providing the social support provides students with academic, social, and emotional support (Grubbs & Boes, 2009). Thus allowing high schoolers to be achieve postsecondary education success.
In September 2014, Dr. Diane Kern, an Associate Professor in the University of Rhode Island’s School of Education, and a team of undergraduate students worked to create a mentoring program at South Kingstown High School- the Academic Success Academy (ASA). Because 10-17 percent of SKHS kids are living in poverty, Assistant Principal Robert Young and our team saw a need for the academic and social-emotional support that a mentoring program can provide.
Over the past few months, ASA has grown in number of mentors and mentees. As an original leader of the mentoring program, it has been extremely gratifying to watch these high school students evolve and demonstrate improvements. Their personal growth, academic advancements, increased self-esteem, and development of peer relationships exhibit the success of ASA and mentoring programs overall. It has also been difficult to see the continued obstacles student face. By observing these students at ASA and reviewing literature on the strengths of mentoring, the successes of programs like ASA are unquestionable. Mentoring has the ability to help students both academically and socially. With more implementation of these programs, more students will leave high school prepared and confident in their abilities.