The Impact of Mentoring School Aged Youth

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Zero tolerance policies usually include harsh disciplinary consequences, either long-term or permanent suspension/expulsion and often includes arrest or referral to juvenile/ adult court (N.A. Heitzeg, 2009). Within these types of cases, most students fall behind academically, which often leads to students dropping out of school. Students who have limited options either work full or part-time at a low-wage job, sell/do drugs, or they may have picked up a trade. Many students who are disproportionately impacted by zero tolerance policies are poor and minority youth and students with disabilities. In an article written by Kang-Brown J., Trone J., Fratello, J., & Daftary-Kapur, T, it says minority students are suspended four time more often than white students. Also, because boys are twice as likely as girls to receive these consequences, the percentage of black and Latino boys who are suspended or expelled is extremely large (2013). However, race is not the only aspect related to school suspension or expulsion. Students with learning disabilities are at a much higher risk than those who do not have disabilities. Those with disabilities are three-time more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension then those who do not have a disability.

There are multiple cases reported by The Justice Policy Institute (2009) and The Advancement Project (2005) that shouldn’t have resulted in such a harsh way and to name a few, there was a 17 y/o junior, he had shot a paperclip aiming and his peer, but he accidently hit a staff member. He was expelled from school. Another example is when a 12 y/o, who had hyperactive disorder told his classmates he would “get them” is they ate all the potatoes at lunch. This 12 y/o was suspended for 2 days and then referred to the police on “terroristic” charge. He was then incarcerated for two weeks waiting on trial (N. A. Heitzeg, 2009). Situations such as these disrupt the hallways, classrooms and the academic development of youth.

Academic Achievement and Support in Schools

The middle school years for most students can be a stressful and overwhelming time period. The transition from elementary to middle school can be challenging. Students may feel like they want to give up, but supportive and nurturing adults can often make the difference in the lives of students who may be facing challenges. Conversely, it can be detrimental when children do not have the support they need at school to promote positive academic outcomes.

Mentoring and Academic Achievement

In a study done by Lampley and Johnson (2010), they collected data from 54 students at Northeast Tennessee middle school. The students who participated were involved in a mentoring program, called LISTEN (Linking Individual Students to Educational Needs). In this study they analyzed the students’ GPA’s, discipline referrals and attendance rates and compared them to the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years. However, there was a requirement they had to meet in order to participate.

For the LISTEN mentee’s to be eligible for participation they had to either 1) fail one or more school years, 2) obtain 10 or more discipline referrals in one school year, or 3) have 10 or more unexcused absences in one year. This were demonstrated and defined as at-risk behaviors, Lampley, J. H., & Johnson, K. C. (2010). The ages ranged from 11-15 years. There were 35 boys that participated in the study, 21% were sixth graders, 42% were seventh graders and 37% eighth graders.

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The way the study was analyzed is there GPA’s represented academic progress, absences reflected engagement and discipline referrals represented student conduct and was collected over a six-week grading period. At the end of the study and after all data was analyzed, GPA’s and discipline were finalized, and the results consisted of 51 of the 54 student’s GPA’s had risen from the school year of 2003-04 to the year 2004-05. Also, 51 of the 54 students had less discipline referrals at the end of the 2004-05 schools year compared to 2003-04 school year.

After reading this study, it seems as if mentoring has some effects on academic performance in school aged children. However, more research needs to be done to make a stronger connection.

School-based mentoring (SBM) is growing rapidly, SBM mentors normally build strong relationships with their mentee’s and each relationship grows at every meeting. Meetings typically happen after school and depending on the mentors schedule these meetings could last 3-4 hours throughout the week.

Most students who are mentored are between the ages of 9 and 16 at this stage in their life they begin to experience school-related challenges which make them vulnerable to academic, social and behavioral problems. An example would be entering fourth grade. “Grades 1 through 3, students learn to read; in fourth grade, students begin to read to learn” (Chall, 1983). Once a child has left third grade and their reading skills are poor, they most likely will experience ongoing learning problems. Also, around this stage of their life children begin to develop their own sense of competence and start to compare their accomplishment and failure to those of their peers (Herrera, Grossman, Kauh, & McMaken, 2011). A child who is experiencing learning challenges tends to feel inadequate in school and frequently disengages from school work, which results in academic failure.

Teens entering junior high school experience major changes in school structure and adult/peer relationship. These transitions are associated with furthering low self-confidence and academic engagement in multiply students (Eccles, 1989). The goal of most mentoring programs is to provide a key protective factor, a caring adult, to children to help ensure that the mentors can accommodate these developmental challenges. Children that are involved in secure, high-quality relationship are more independent and socially competent.

Multiple studies have been done to outline the effects of “traditional” community-based mentoring (CBM) that is implemented outside of the school context. However, very little research has been conducted to determine whether this major new variant of SBM is similarly able to contribute to youth’s positive development. Schools based mentors try to focus on a teacher’s attention on the youth and help realign the children’s attitudes toward teacher (Rhodes, Grossman, & Resch, 2000).

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The Impact of Mentoring School Aged Youth. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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