By Erika Ditzman
Achieve Brown County’s Graduation Task Force is comprised of four local school districts and three mentoring organizations working together to ensure that all students in Brown County have the supports needed to graduate high school. The Graduation Task Force was launched four years ago. Together, the Action Team Members created a system to detect students who could benefit from mentoring supports, determine the appropriate mentoring option, and then refer the student to the selected community-based mentoring program. The overarching goal of the Graduation Task Force is to achieve a 100% graduation rate in Brown County. In addition, mentoring supports are crucial for closing the high school graduation equity gaps that exist for students of color.
In the first year of the pilot program, the Alpha Test provided mentoring supports to 53 students. Outcomes for these students were recorded for academic achievement, attendance, and behavior. Students who were selected to participate were identified by school staff and through a review of the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS).
Participating programs included BE GREAT: Graduate at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, Six-Twelve Mentoring at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin and the Student Assistance Program of Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin.
As indicated above, 48% of students saw improved grades, 51% improved attendance and 10% improved behavior while being involved in these mentoring programs during the Alpha Test. The above data does not take students who maintained any of the key outcome measures into consideration. This data would later be included in the 2020-2021 Gamma Test.
Due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 Beta Test was evaluated with qualitative data such as survey results, testimonials, quotes and photos.
The Gamma Test achieved an increase in the number of students (264 total students) served by BE GREAT: Graduate and Six-Twelve Mentoring.
As indicated above, 192 students are represented by the outcome data. 33% of students improved their grades during the Gamma Test (48% improved during the Alpha Test), 28% of students improved their attendance during the Gamma Test (51% improved during the Alpha Test) and 5% of students improved their behavior during the Gamma Test (10% improved during the Alpha Test).
Conducted during the 2020-2021 school year, COVID-19 was a major factor in the measurement and monitoring of key outcomes. Attendance, for example, varied in expectations from district to district whether it was in-person, hybrid or virtual. When virtual, behavior could not be as easily monitored and was completely dependent on whether there was a behavioral incident.
The barriers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the growing need for mentorship programs, such as BE GREAT: Graduate and Six-Twelve Mentoring, to assist students.
While we are excited about the growth of students served by the Graduation Task Force, there is still a great need for mentors. Recent data shows that 23.18% of students in sixth through ninth grade in Brown County are at risk of not graduating high school. This amounts to roughly 2,856 students who could benefit from a mentoring relationship.
Published: October 25, 2021