Year of Publication

2016

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Eugenia Toma

Executive Summary

While technology continues to progress and the United States continues to be considered one of the most privately wealthy nations in the world, the education gap for African American and Hispanic students continues to be a concern for teachers, school administrators, state and local politicians, and all who study public education policy. School districts persistently look for ways to improve student achievement in traditional as well as non-traditional ways, while aligning with state and local education goals and staying within budget.

This study examines a new mentoring model for middle school students. The program, Mentors & Meals (M&Ms), was the result of a conversation with a middle school principal and a high school vice-principal in a rural-suburban school district in Woodford County, Kentucky regarding how to academically assist under-served and at-risk teens during the most behaviorally risky time of day. After that conversation and by the end of the same school year, Mentors & Meals ran an 8-week pilot program in which results indicated the model appeared to have achieved some success in improving student outcomes based on overall GPA change. The next school year, M&Ms became a full- fledged non-profit program whose mission is to enhance academic achievement in middle school students utilizing high school and college mentors along with adult volunteers. This capstone will analyze grades of student participants from September, 2013 to May, 2016 against a control group of students who did not participate in the M&Ms program.

The intent of the study is to evaluate grade change in four core subject areas controlling for attendance, behavior, grade in school, free or reduced price lunch status, gender, ethnicity and tenure (participation) in year 1, 2 and 3. In the four core subject areas studied, two methods of linear regression found statistically significant improvement in Language Arts in the first year and one method showed Social Studies gains at year 3. There were no gains in Math or Science.

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