Understanding the Ways that Program Mentoring Influences the Decision of Urban, At-risk, High School Students to Apply for College

Alonda Alloway-Higgins
Seton Hall University and Newark Public Schools
alondaa@aol.com

Abstract

In this narrative, teacher education candidates showcase the results of an action research-based project that evolved from a partnership and field experience. The project describes the vision of future teachers and an educationalist to change the pathways of students labeled as “at-risk”. The constituents of the partnership are education majors from a local predominately White university who are determined to counteract the belief that children must be culturally matched to mentor/tutors/teachers for educational impact to be made. The junior high students are predominately African American. They are also residents of public housing, primarily from female-headed households, and typically at least one school year behind their age mates. There are many that believe that this neighborhood school can survive the dismal picture despite its failing SPS score. Each year, schools receive numerical scores known as School Performance Scores (SPS). Schools that have an SPS below 65 for the 2010-2011 school years receive an F. the junior high school’s SPS is 68.9%. Implications suggest that junior high students’ basic needs must be met in order for higher needs to be achieved. In other words, stressors such as school bullying must first be met before any academic impact is made through mentoring and tutoring. Hence, junior high students can obtain a great appreciation for reading if literacy is made fun rather than a task.

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