Peer Mentoring

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The following Web post was about the November story, “Peer-to-Peer Pressures: Study shows the limits of using high schoolers as mentors,” regarding a study of peer mentoring in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) programs.

It should be noted that many BBBS affiliate organizations have experience that differs from this research study. Our own Program Outcome Evaluation aggregate scores in central California differed significantly from the research for the last school year, as well as in previous years. Teachers rated the child’s outcomes, and 75 percent noted improved or maintenance of high academic performance, more than 70 percent improved classroom behavior and classroom participation, and more than 65 percent improved their peer relationships and increased their respect for other cultures.

There are indeed issues around length of match given the school environment, which we are still struggling with. Structure and on-site supervision are indeed important. While I believe that the traditional adult/child community-based match has the greatest outcome over the long term, our local results show there is value to both the high school “big” (not measured in the study) and to the mentee. The research provides excellent learning, but is not, in my view, definitive.

Brooke Frost, Executive Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central California
Fresno, Calif.