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Program Profile: Achievement Mentoring Program (AMP)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on March 30, 2015

Program Summary

An intervention for urban minority freshmen at risk of dropping out of high school. The goal was to enhance school-related cognitions and behaviors. The program is rated Promising. The program did not significantly impact students’ absences, grade point averages, or decision-making efficacy, but had significant effects on discipline referrals, negative school behavior, performance in mathematics and language arts, and other self-reported outcomes.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The goal of the Achievement Mentoring Program (AMP) was to enhance school-related cognitions and behaviors. The intervention targeted urban minority freshmen at risk of dropping out of high school.
 
Program Activities
AMP activities consisted of weekly meetings during the second semester of a student’s freshman year and monthly booster sessions completed during a student’s second year of high school. AMP mentors were teachers and other school staff who volunteered to be mentors after a brief presentation of the program during a faculty meeting. AMP mentors followed specific, manualized guidelines to fulfill the goals of the program (Bry 2001).
 
First, mentors independently reviewed each student’s number of days absent, tardiness, and discipline referrals (if any), prior to a weekly meeting with their mentees. The mentors also interviewed one of their students’ teachers concerning progress in class, including any upcoming assignments, and asked the teacher to share any positive things the student had done in the past week. Second, mentors held one-on-one weekly meetings with their mentees for at least 15–20 minutes per meeting. During each meeting, the mentee was given the opportunity to present his or her view of what happened during that past week at school. The mentee was informed of all of the positive things that he or she had done, based on the information collected from school records and the teacher interview. The mentee was also praised for his or her accomplishments. Behaviors that needed improvement were identified, and problem-solving techniques were used to explore how to change the behavior. New behaviors (such as organizing a notebook, doing homework, or talking to a teacher) were practiced during the weekly meetings.
 
Following each meeting, the mentor informed another person, such as a teacher, of the mentee’s accomplishments and arranged to have this person praise the mentee. Finally, the mentor contacted the mentee’s parents on a monthly basis to inform them of any progress in the student’s behavior. Specifically, mentors informed parents of their children’s positive behavioral progress as a means of providing an opportunity for the mentees to receive additional praise from their parents. During the following school year, mentors were strongly encouraged to meet with their mentees at least monthly for booster sessions.
 
Program Theory
The program was based on social learning theory (Bandura 1986). Social learning theory suggests that an intervention in a student’s educational environment can influence the student’s academic trajectory due to interrelationships among the environmental, personal, and behavioral domains. AMP provided a mentoring intervention in the youth’s environment with the goal of producing cognitive and behavioral change.
 
Additional Information
The program was a manualized modification of the Early Secondary Intervention Program (Stanley et al. 1976), now known as the Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement Program.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Number of Discipline Referrals at Follow-Up
Holt and colleagues (2008) found no significant difference in the number of discipline referrals at the follow-up between the treatment group that participated in the Achievement Mentoring Program (AMP) and the control group that did not participate.
 
Number of Absences at Follow-Up
There was no significant difference in the number of absences received by students in the treatment and control groups at the follow-up.
 
Grade Point Average at Follow-Up
There was no significant difference in the grade point averages between treatment and control groups at the follow-up.
 
Study 2
Decision-Making Efficacy at Follow-Up
Clarke (2009) found no significant difference in decision-making efficacy between the AMP treatment and control groups at the 2-year follow-up.
 
Negative School Behavior at Follow-Up
There was a significant difference observed between the treatment and control groups in self-reported negative school behavior at the 2-year follow-up. Students in the treatment group reported fewer instances of negative school behavior (such as tardiness, cutting class, or being involved in a physical altercation with another student) compared with students in the control group.
 
Mathematics Performance at Follow-Up
There was a significant difference in the mathematics performance between the treatment and control groups at the 2-year follow-up. Students in the treatment group had higher average mathematics grades than students in the control group.
 
Language Arts Performance at Follow-Up
There was a significant difference in the language arts performance between the treatment and control groups at the 2-year follow-up. Students in the treatment group had higher average language arts grades than students in the control group.
 
Discipline Referrals at Follow-Up
There was a significant difference in the number of discipline referrals between the treatment and control groups at the 2-year follow-up. Students in the treatment group received 12 fewer discipline referrals than students in the control group.
 
Goal-Setting Efficacy at Follow-Up
There was no significant difference in goal-setting efficacy between the treatment and control groups at the 2-year follow-up.
 
Perception of Teacher Support at Follow-Up
There was a significant difference between the treatment and control groups in students' self-reported perception of teacher support at the 2-year follow-up. Students in the treatment group reported higher levels of perceived teacher support than did students in the control group.
 
Perception of Classmate Acceptance at Follow-Up
There was a significant difference between the treatment and control groups in students' self-reported perception of classmate acceptance at the 2-year follow-up. Students in the treatment group reported higher levels of perceived classmate acceptance than did students in the control group.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Holt and colleagues (2008) evaluated the Achievement Mentoring Program (AMP). Study participants were chosen from a group of 97 students who were receiving a universal prevention program entitled "Peer Group Connection" (PGC; Johnson, Holt, Bry, and Powell, 2008) in an urban public high school. PGC is a year-long, peer outreach program focused on facilitating all 9th graders’ transitions to high school. Study participants were students in PGC who were deemed to be at risk for academic failure after 1 semester of high school. Students were characterized as at risk for academic failure if they exhibited at least two of the following risk factors: low grades and/or academic motivation, discipline problems, and frequent tardiness or absence from school. Using these criteria, 44 students were selected for the evaluation of AMP.

These 44 students were grouped by gender and race/ethnicity, and then randomly assigned in equal numbers to either a treatment group to receive the 5-month AMP intervention or to a control group with no mentoring. Four students were excluded from the sample, resulting in a final sample of 40 students. The composition of the final sample was 58 percent male, 47 percent Latino, 38 percent African American, 5 percent white, and 10 percent other race/ethnicity. There were no observed differences between the treatment and control groups on the outcome measures of interest at the baseline.

Three outcome measures of interest were gathered from school records: 1) number of discipline referrals, 2) number of absences, and 3) grade point average. These measures were obtained for the first semester of the participants' freshman year (before the AMP intervention began), at the end of their freshman year, and at the end of the first semester of their second year of high school (additional outcome measures included students’ self-reported sense of school belonging, decision making, academic efficacy, and perceptions of teacher support; these outcomes were not obtained at the final follow-up, however, and thus are not included in this review.). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests were used to test for effects of the intervention on the outcome measures. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to determine whether there was a significant difference between the treatment and control groups in the number of students who received a discipline referral for the first time during the relevant period.
 
Study 2
Clarke (2009) replicated and extended Holt and colleagues’ (2008) evaluation of the impact of AMP over a period of 2 academic years. Participants who were deemed at risk for academic failure were selected from a pool of students in an urban public high school who were receiving the PGC program. Researchers selected a sample of 39 participants who were 79 percent African American, 18 percent Hispanic American, 3 percent European American, and 44 percent male. Each student selected was paired with a similar selected student based on gender, ethnicity, grades, and attendance and discipline records, in that order of priority. The two members of each pair were then randomly assigned to either a treatment group to receive AMP or to a control group (20 students were assigned to the treatment group, and 19 to the control group).
 
Treatment and control groups were surveyed at 3 time points: during the first semester of their freshman year (prior to the beginning of the AMP intervention), at the end of their freshman year, and at the end of their second year of high school. School records that reported information on grades and discipline referrals were obtained for each of the 4 semesters of the 2-year study period. By the end of the study, data was available for between 10 and 11 participants in the control group (depending on the outcome measure) and for between 13 and 15 participants in the treatment group. Lack of availability of data at the end of the study was due to various reasons, including dropping out of school, being sent to an alternative school, or being placed out of district. No differences were observed at the baseline comparison between the treatment and control groups on the outcome measures.
 
Outcome measures included students’ self-reported decision-making efficacy, goal-setting efficacy, perceptions of teacher support, perceptions of classmate acceptance, and negative school behavior as well as school records of grades in mathematics and language arts, and discipline referrals. Researchers tested for effects of the intervention by comparing the treatment and control groups at each available follow-up point. T-tests were used to examine the self-reported outcome measures, and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to examine the discipline referrals. To evaluate effects on academic grades, repeated-measures ANOVA was used to test for group differences in changes of grades over the 4 periods of assessment.

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Cost

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Mentors were paid $90 for completing the training, and $500 for each school year of mentoring.
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Implementation Information

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In the Clarke (2009) evaluation of the Achievement Mentoring Program (AMP), program mentors were teachers and other school staff who volunteered to be mentors after a brief presentation of the program during a faculty meeting. Volunteers participated in a 3-hour training session conducted by Dr.Brenna Bry, who developed AMP and authored the manual (Bry 2001), before being chosen as AMP mentors. During the second semester of the program’s first year, Dr. Bry met with each mentor for approximately 20 minutes for 13 weeks: an average of 9.25 times, with the number of meetings ranging from 7–12. She reviewed the program procedures, discussed the progress that was made with each mentee, and problem-solved any issue pertaining to the mentoring relationship or mentee’s progress. During the second semester of the booster session year, Dr. Bry met once a month, for 75 minutes, with the mentors in a group format, designed as a luncheon. During this meeting, the progress and goals of each mentee were discussed with input from other mentors.
 
Mentors maintained a weekly log during the semester that detailed when they met with each mentee, the length of the interaction, the specific goal(s) discussed, and any plans made for completing the goal(s). During the second semester of the program’s first year, after each weekly meeting with the mentors, the program developer completed a fidelity report indicating which of the 10 program procedures were completed by the mentor. The mentors’ level of compliance with each item of the manualized program ranged between 45 percent and 100 percent, with an overall average of 72.5 percent adherence to the program procedures.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Holt, Laura, Brenna Bry, and Valerie Johnson. 2008. “Enhancing School Engagement in At-Risk, Urban Minority Adolescents Through A School-Based, Adult Mentoring Intervention.” Child & Family Behavior Therapy 30(4): 297–318.

Study 2
Clarke, Lolalyn. “Effects of a School-Based Adult Mentoring Intervention on Low Income, Urban High School Freshmen Judged to be at Risk for Dropout: A Replication and Extension.” PhD diss., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2009.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Bry, Brenna. 2001. Achievement Mentoring Manual: Bry’s Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement Program—A Preventive Intervention. Available from Brenna H. Bry, Ph.D., Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, 152 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, N.J., 08854.

Bandura, Albert. 1986. Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Johnson, Valerie, Laura Holt, Brenna Bry, and Sharon Powell. 2008. “Effects of an Integrated Prevention Program on Urban Youth Transitioning into High School.” Journal of Applied School Psychology 24(2):225–46.

Stanley, Helen, Amy Goldstein, and Brenna Bry. 1976. Program Manual for the Early Secondary Intervention Program (renamed the Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement Program). Available from Brenna H. Bry, Ph.D., Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, 152 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, N.J., 08854.



Taylor, Andrea Lynne. 2010. Testing a model of change in Achievement Mentoring for School Behavior Problems. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Mentoring
This practice provides at-risk youth with positive and consistent adult or older peer contact to promote healthy development and functioning by reducing risk factors. The practice is rated Effective in reducing delinquency outcomes; and Promising in reducing the use of alcohol and drugs; improving school attendance, grades, academic achievement test scores, social skills and peer relationships.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Drugs & Substance Abuse - Multiple substances
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Multiple education outcomes
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Mental Health & Behavioral Health - Psychological functioning



Dropout Prevention Programs
School- or community-based programs targeting frequently absent students or students at risk of dropping out of school. These programs are aimed at increasing school engagement, school attachment, and the academic performance of students, with the main objective of increasing graduation rates. The practice is rated Effective for reducing rates of school dropouts, and rated Promising for improving test scores/grades, graduation rates, and attendance.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Education - Dropout
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Academic achievement/school performance
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Graduation
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Attendance/truancy
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Program Snapshot

Age: 14 - 15

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): School

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Mentoring, School/Classroom Environment

Targeted Population: Truants/Dropouts

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration, Model Programs Guide

Program Developer:
Brenna Bry
Professor, Clinical Psychology Department
Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
152 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway NJ 08854
Phone: 848.445.3977
Fax: 732.445.4888
Website
Email

Program Director:
Sherry Barr
Vice President
Center for Supportive Schools
911 Commons Way
Princeton NJ 08540
Phone: 609.252.9300

Researcher:
Lolalyn Clarke
Clinician Supervisor
Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (RUBHC), Newark Child Partial Hospitalization Program
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Sherry Barr
Vice President
Center for Supportive Schools
911 Commons Way
Princeton NJ 08540
Phone: 609.252.9300
Website
Email