Although all mentoring organizations must collect data, beginning a discussion about what kinds of data we collect in Oklahoma is important to know results and track growth. Porsche Linnemann primarily contributed these suggestions.
Each mentoring agency decides what outcomes would benefit them most from reporting
Outcomes are becoming more and more crucial in reporting to funding sources or to gain new funding sources.
Foundations want to fund projects that have a visible, tangible impact on the community that they serve.
Types of outcomes:
Short-term outcomes, e.g., increased self-esteem, decreased absenteeism, grade promotion, decrease in juvenile delinquency
Long-term outcomes, e.g., graduation from high school, reduced adult incarceration rates, successful entry and exit from postsecondary education
• What is each mentoring agencies’ mission?
• How will they know that the resources they are providing are having a positive impact on the child?
Types of data collection:
Subjective – based upon one’s personal perspective, observations, discovery or feelings
Example: surveys from mentee, mentor, counselor, teacher, parent, or others
Topics: self-esteem, changes in attitude, social skills with peers and/or adults, family relationships, mental health, etc.
Objective – based upon facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations; measurable, quantifiable
Example: Actual measurable data
Topics: Truancy, physical improvement, substance abuse, delinquency, vocational status/planning, educational status/grade improvement, immigrant/ELL, responsible sexual behavior, anger management, etc.
Linneamann says that the most effective data collection that BBBS does is by directly asking either the mentors/parent/child a set of questions.
When to ask questions or survey?
Pre-evaluation – offers a firm place of where each child with grades, attendance, self-esteem and risk behaviors before they began the mentoring program
Post-evaluation – how far the mentee has developed while in the mentoring program
How often to ask questions or survey?
Annually – every 12 months
More frequently – every six months
Change wording based on audience (parent/mentor/child).
Create a 5-point scale for these questions, i.e., 1 = worse, 3 = no change, 5 = improved, or 1= F 3= C 5= A. Change the scale based on question.
1. On average, what is a typical grade for your child?
2. On average, how many days of school will your child miss each semester?
3. Have you seen improvement in your child’s grades since having a mentor (or over the past year)?
4. Have you seen improvement in your child’s attendance rate since having a mentor (or over the past year)?
5. Have you seen an improvement in your child’s self-esteem since having a mentor (or over the past year)?
6. How would you rate your child’s classroom behavior?
7. How would you rate your child’s relationship with peers?
8. How would you rate your child’s relationship with their teacher?
9. Will your child be promoted to the next grade level?
10. Has your child been involved with the juvenile justice system this past year?
This is just a sample of questions mentoring agencies can ask. Once they figure out what it is they want to measure (or what outcomes they want to see in the children they are mentoring) that will drive the questions that are developed. Then it’s a matter of consistently asking questions to a certain group (parent/mentor/child) at a fixed time period (six months, 12 months).
Porsche Linnemann, BBBBOK director of program operations and national-level data expert, is also a member of the Boren Mentoring Initiative’s Advisory Committee, 2012-13. Email, 4-29-13
Note: Many mentoring groups have posted online pre- and post-surveys to download or adapt. The BMI has many of these on e-file available upon request, or we can help you adapt one for your program.
Photos from fotosearch.com