skip to main content
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Back Button

Mentoring for students (non-Big Brothers Big Sisters): school-based (taxpayer costs only)

Public Health & Prevention: School-based
Benefit-cost estimates updated December 2017.  Literature review updated June 2014.
Open PDF
In school-based mentoring programs, mentors and students meet weekly at school for one-to-one relationship building and guidance. Mentors are adult volunteers, school staff, or high school students. Community-based organizations coordinate with school staff and provide mentors with training and oversight. The programs included in this analysis are (in no particular order) the national Student Mentoring Program, Project CHANCE, SMILE, and other locally developed programs.
BENEFIT-COST
META-ANALYSIS
CITATIONS
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2016). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $8,340 Benefits minus costs $25,473
Participants $14,255 Benefit to cost ratio $18.11
Others $4,603 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($236) benefits greater than the costs 71 %
Total benefits $26,962
Net program cost ($1,489)
Benefits minus cost $25,473
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime ($93) $0 ($221) ($46) ($359)
Labor market earnings associated with high school graduation $8,346 $18,378 $8,401 $0 $35,126
Labor market earnings associated with test scores ($1,028) ($2,264) ($1,013) $0 ($4,305)
Health care associated with educational attainment $1,988 ($544) ($2,171) $1,001 $275
Costs of higher education ($874) ($1,315) ($394) ($442) ($3,025)
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($749) ($749)
Totals $8,340 $14,255 $4,603 ($236) $26,962
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $1,474 2015 Present value of net program costs (in 2016 dollars) ($1,489)
Comparison costs $0 2015 Cost range (+ or -) 20 %
The effects of this program represent one year of mentoring. Per-participant cost estimates are based on the Student Mentoring Program as described in Bernstein, L., Rappaport, C.D., Olsho, L., Hunt, D., & Levin, M. (2009). Impact evaluation of the US Department of Education's Student Mentoring Program. Final report. NCEE 2009-4047. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Cost estimates exclude volunteer time and donated space.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

^WSIPP’s benefit-cost model does not monetize this outcome.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes (ES) and standard errors (SE) used in the benefit-cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Crime 1 1163 0.013 0.065 12 0.013 0.065 22 0.013 0.838
Grade point average^ 4 1478 -0.004 0.037 12 n/a n/a n/a -0.001 0.976
High school graduation 1 66 0.262 0.265 18 0.262 0.265 18 0.689 0.029
Office discipline referrals^ 1 16 -0.360 0.356 12 n/a n/a n/a -0.948 0.011
School attendance^ 3 1240 0.055 0.040 12 n/a n/a n/a 0.064 0.113
Test scores 1 1163 -0.034 0.050 12 -0.026 0.055 17 -0.034 0.501

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Bernstein, L., Rappaport, C.D., Olsho, L., Hunt, D., & Levin, M. (2009). Impact evaluation of the US Department of Education's Student Mentoring Program. Final report. NCEE 2009-4047. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.

Converse, N., & Lignugaris-Kraft, B. (2008). Evaluation of a school-based mentoring program for at-risk middle school youth. Remedial and Special Education, 30(1), 33-46.

DeSocio, J., VanCura, M., Nelson, L.A., Hewitt, G., Kitzman, H., & Cole, R. (2007). Engaging truant adolescents: Results from a multifaceted intervention pilot. Preventing School Failure, 51(3), 3-9.

Flaherty, B.P. (1985). An experiment in mentoring for high school students assigned to basic courses. Dissertation Abstracts International, 46(02), 352A.

Karcher, M.J. (2008). The study of mentoring in the learning environment (SMILE): A randomized evaluation of the effectiveness of school-based mentoring. Prevention Science, 9(2), 99-113.

For more information on the methods
used please see our Technical Documentation.
360.664.9800
institute@wsipp.wa.gov