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Achievement Mentoring

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A middle school, two-year intervention that uses small group meetings designed to reduce adolescent drug abuse and school failure among high-risk adolescents by enhancing school attendance, promptness, achievement, and discipline.

  • Brenna H. Bry, Ph.D.
  • Rutgers University
  • Graduate School of Applied Professional Psychology
  • 152 Frelinghuysen Road
  • Piscataway, NJ 08854
  • bbry@rci.rutgers.edu
  • Academic Performance
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Employment
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Truancy - School Attendance

    Program Type

    • Cognitive-Behavioral Training
    • School - Individual Strategies
    • Truancy Prevention

    Program Setting

    • School

    Continuum of Intervention

    • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)

    A middle school, two-year intervention that uses small group meetings designed to reduce adolescent drug abuse and school failure among high-risk adolescents by enhancing school attendance, promptness, achievement, and discipline.

      Population Demographics

      The program targets middle and junior high school students at high risk for increasing school failure experiences. Teens are considered to be at-risk if they meet at least two of three criteria: (1) low academic motivation, (2) family problems, i.e., feeling of distance from the family, and (3) frequent or serious discipline referrals.

      Age

      • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School

      Gender

      • Male and Female

      Race/Ethnicity

      • All Race/Ethnicity

      Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

      All youth

      Risk Factors: low academic motivation, a disregard for rules, and a feeling of distance from the family.

      Protective Factors: natural community of reinforcers in society which maintain positive behavior, belief that desired consequences are gained through the subjects' own actions.

      • Individual
      • School
      • Family
      Risk Factors
      • Individual: Antisocial/aggressive behavior*, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior
      • School: Low school commitment and attachment, Poor academic performance*
      Protective Factors
      • Individual: Clear standards for behavior, Prosocial behavior
      • Family: Attachment to parents
      • School: Rewards for prosocial involvement in school

      *Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

      Achievement Mentoring (formerly Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement Program) is a school-based intervention designed to change the negative school behavior of middle school adolescents. Students meet in small groups and systematically work through behavior change. The intervention consists of four components: (1) Collecting up-to-date information about each student's school-related behavior; (2) Providing systematic feedback to the student and/or the parents about the student's behavior; (3) Attaching point values to the student's behavior to earn incentives; and (4) Helping the student figure out how he/she can earn more points. The program lasts for two years.

      Blueprints has not certified the high school adaptation of the program.

      Achievement Mentoring is a two-year school-based intervention designed to change the negative school behavior of middle school adolescents. Students meet in small groups systematically work through behavior change. The intervention consists of four components: (1) Collecting up-to-date information about each student's school-related behavior (from daily attendance, tardiness, and disciplinary action records, and interviews with teachers); (2) Providing systematic feedback to the student and/or the parents about the student's behavior; (3) Attaching point values to the student's behavior (e.g., points for coming to school, not being tardy, receiving no disciplinary action, etc.), with points earned towards an extra school trip; and (4) Helping the student figure out how he/she can earn more points.

      The program is based on behavior modification theory. It is based on the findings of various research studies indicating that problem behaviors in adolescents are preceded by increases in cynicism about the predictability of the world and decreases in the sense of competence to deal with it. Additionally, this cynicism can be prevented and self-efficacy increased through repeated exposure to environments in which it is clear that desired consequences are gained through the subject's own actions.

      • Behavioral
      • Self Efficacy

      The middle school program was evaluated with two sets of forty 7th graders, one from a low-income, inner-city school and one from a middle-class, suburban school, were matched (via yoked-control) into twenty pairs based on relevant school failure variables. Each pair member was then randomly assigned to the intervention or control group condition. The control group received no special program at all. For the one-year follow-up, biweekly booster sessions were available to the experimental group; however, fewer than 50% attended, the rest were mailed notes from the meeting. Because there were no race, age, sex, socioeconomic status, or initial achievement motivation differences between schools, data from the two samples was pooled for the one-year follow-up. Sixty-six 9th grade subjects (of a possible 80) were the target of the one-year follow-up. Sixty-three participated in the interview on employment, drug and alcohol use, and criminal behaviors. Court records were analyzed for a five-year follow-up.

      Intervention effects became evident after two program years. Significant differences were found after the second program year when control subjects' grades and attendance continued to decline while intervention subjects' grades and attendance significantly improved. However, there were no significant differences for disciplinary actions. One-year post-test, intervention youths were significantly more likely to have had a job and were less likely to have been involved in criminal behavior. Intervention youths also reported significantly lower rates of illegal drug use (3% vs. 16%), with the exception of marijuana and alcohol use, for which the intervention yielded no significant differences. At five years posttest, intervention youths were 66% less likely to have a juvenile record than controls.

      Program effects for the middle school program include:

      • Significantly higher attendance and grades for intervention youths after two program years.
      • One year posttest, intervention subjects were more likely to have had a job.
      • Intervention youths less likely to have been involved in criminal behavior one year posttest.
      • Significantly lower rates of illegal drug use for intervention youths at one-year follow-up.
      • Intervention youths 66% less likely to have a juvenile record five years posttest.

      Researchers reported that there was no evidence in the initial studies that outcomes differed as a function of race, age, sex, socioeconomic status, or initial achievement motivation, but there is no specific evidence presented on any of these variables other than socioeconomic status, as data for the low- and middle-income samples were pooled for the follow-up study. It is not clear that the program effects were analyzed for race or gender effects at either follow-up, which is when effects on outcomes of interest (delinquency) emerged.

      No effects after one program year and no differences in disciplinary actions after two program years. Effects at one-year follow-up were only marginally significant for criminal behavior and were non-significant for marijuana and alcohol use. Although this sample is small, the study design is strong, and there is little attrition.

      This intervention yielded no significant effects upon one completed program year but produced significant improvement after two completed program years.

      • Blueprints: Promising

      Bry, B. H. (1982). Reducing the incidence of adolescent problems through preventive intervention: One- and five-year follow-up. American Journal of Community Psychology, 10, 265-276.

      Bry, B. H. & George, F. E. (1979). Evaluating and improving prevention programs: A strategy from drug abuse. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2, 127-136.

      Bry, B. H. & George, F. E. (1980). The preventive effects of early intervention on the attendance and grades of urban adolescents. Professional Psychology, 11, 252-260.

      Brenna H. Bry, Ph.D.
      Rutgers University
      Grad. Sch. of Applied & Professional Psychology
      152 Frelinghuysen Road
      Piscataway, NJ 08854
      bbry@rci.rutgers.edu

      Study 1

      Bry, B. H. (1982). Reducing the incidence of adolescent problems through preventive intervention: One- and five-year follow-up. American Journal of Community Psychology, 10, 265-276.

      Bry, B. H. & George, F. E. (1979). Evaluating and improving prevention programs: A strategy from drug abuse. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2, 127-136.

      Bry, B. H. & George, F. E. (1980). The preventive effects of early intervention on the attendance and grades of urban adolescents. Professional Psychology, 11, 252-260.

      Bry, B. H. (1982). Reducing the incidence of adolescent problems through preventive intervention: One- and five-year follow-up. American Journal of Community Psychology, 10, 265-276.

      Bry, B. H. & George, F. E. (1979). Evaluating and improving prevention programs: A strategy from drug abuse. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2, 127-136.

      Bry, B. H. & George, F. E. (1980). The preventive effects of early intervention on the attendance and grades of urban adolescents. Professional Psychology, 11, 252-260.

      Evaluation Methodology

      Design: The evaluation of Achievement Mentoring (formerly Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement) incuded two sets of forty seventh graders, one from a low-income, inner-city school (n=40) and one from a middle-class, suburban school (n=40), who met selection criteria (exhibiting two of three criteria: (1) low academic motivation, (2) family problems, i.e., feeling of distance from the family, or (3) frequent or serious discipline referrals) were matched (via yoked-control) into twenty pairs based on relevant school failure variables. Each pair member was then randomly assigned to the intervention or control group condition, both of which lasted for two school years. The control group received no special program at all, although the typical resources within the school system were available to these students. The selected students had been absent from school for an average of 22 days during sixth grade and had a D+ GPA. There were no significant differences between the program and control groups on sixth grade GPA and attendance prior to the start of the treatment. For the one-year follow-up, biweekly booster sessions were available to the experimental group; however, fewer than 50% attended, the rest were mailed notes from the meeting.

      Sample: Since there was no evidence in the initial studies that outcomes differed as a function of race, age, sex, socioeconomic status, or initial achievement motivation, for the follow-up study, the data for the low- and middle-income samples were pooled. The sample included 44 males and 22 females (mean age = 15 1/2), 36 (54%) from the suburban school system and 30 (46%) from the urban school system, who had completed the two-year program and were targeted for the one-year follow-up. Forty-two percent were African American and the rest (58%) were white. Sixty-three subjects participated in the follow-up interview (two students refused to be interviewed while the parents of one other student failed to provide consent), but school records for this sample could only be obtained for 58 students. Finally, 60 subjects (mean age=19 1/2; 75% of original sample) were the target of the five-year follow-up.

      Measures: Measures for the initial report included absences, tardies, grades and disciplinary actions. For the one-year follow-up, subjects were interviewed on employment, frequency and recency of drug use, quantity, frequency, and recency of alcohol use, and frequencies of four criminal behaviors - vandalism, car theft, grand theft, and robbery. For the five-year follow-up, criminal records were obtained to examine intervention effects on delinquency.

      Analysis: Posttest analysis was conducted with Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks tests to analyze change over the two year program period. Chi-square analysis was employed to compare intervention and control group differences on follow-up outcome measures, although a Mann-Whitney U test was used to test for differences in reported criminal behavior in the one-year follow-up.

      Outcomes

      Posttest (Bry & George, 1980): This publication reports results of implementation in the inner-city school sample only. While 20 matched pairs began the program, five students transferred during the second program year, leaving 15 matched pairs available for analysis (n =15 for both the experimental and control group). Over the two year period, there were significant differences between the changes in the program students' grades and attendance and those of the control group. The two-year trend showed no program effects after one year in the program; both groups were experiencing school failure. However, significant differences were found after the second program year when control subjects' grades and attendance continued to decline while intervention subjects' grades and attendance improved. However, there were no significant differences for disciplinary actions.

      One-Year Follow-Up (Bry, 1982): Because there were no significant differences between the urban and suburban school samples, data were pooled for the follow-up studies. Thus, the sample at the one-year follow-up included 36 students from the suburban school and 30 students from the urban school. At the point of one-year follow-up, the extent of school-based problems (i.e., suspension, absenteeism, tardiness, and academic failure) was significantly different between the intervention and control groups combined sample, with more problems experienced by the control group.

      One and one-half years after the main program period, using self-report data, experimental youth were significantly more likely than control youth to have had a job. The intervention group was significantly lower than the control group members in reports of abuse of the class of drugs which includes hallucinogens, stimulants, glue, tranquilizers, and barbiturates (p<.09). The Chi-Square was non-significant for marijuana use, and the instances of cocaine and heroin use were too few to analyze. There was no significant difference for alcohol abuse. There was a marginally significant difference between the intervention and control groups in reported criminal behavior (p<.075). Eleven intervention subjects reported a sum of 19 instances of criminal behavior; 18 control subjects reported 45 instances. Examination of school records shows significant differences between the two groups on school-based problems (suspensions, absenteeism, tardies, and promotions to next grade), with results favoring the intervention group.

      Five-Year Follow-Up (Bry, 1982): At the five-year follow-up, there were 60 students remaining for examination. The distributions of gender, age, race, and original school system among the dropped students did not differ from those who remained in the study.

      There was no evidence of intervention effects upon drug-related arrests -- only one subject in each group had any. However, significantly fewer of the intervention subjects had county court files (i.e., juvenile record) than the control subjects (3 compared to 9).