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Focus on Mentee-Mentor Relationships: The 10th Grade Implementation of iMentor's College Ready Program

November 22, 2016

The iMentor College Ready Program is a school-based mentoring program that aims to help students build the mindsets, skills, and knowledge necessary to enroll and succeed in college. iMentor works with partner high schools that serve low-income students, and places at least one full-time staff member in each partner school to help implement the program. In each school, iMentor engages in four key activities:Matching mentees and mentors,Supporting mentee-mentor pairs,Teaching college knowledge and non-cognitive skills through a weekly iMentor class, andProviding mentees and mentors opportunities to interact, in person and online.The Research Alliance is conducting an in-depth evaluation of the iMentor College Ready Program in eight New York City high schools. With support from the Social Innovation Fund, the Research Alliance is examining iMentor's roll-out and implementation in these schools, as well as its impact on a range of outcomes related to students' preparation for college.Focus on Mentee-Mentor Relationships examines how the College Ready program was implemented for 10th graders in all eight evaluation schools. According to iMentor's leaders, the development of close mentee-mentor relationships is the most important outcome for 9th and 10th grade students in the program, because these relationships will provide a foundation for the college readiness, application, and enrollment work that pairs take on in 11th and 12th grade. Therefore, this report focuses on the development of these relationships, as well as the overall quality of program implementation for 10th graders.The report provides a detailed description of the four key components of the iMentor College Ready Program and assesses the implementation of these program elements against specific benchmarks established by iMentor. It also assesses how specific types and quantities of interaction (e.g., emails, text messages, phone calls, in-person meetings) between mentees and mentors are associated with the closeness of their relationships.

Connecting Teachers and Ed-Tech Developers: Lessons from NYC's Gap App Program

January 11, 2016

In 2011, with support from a federal Investing in Innovation grant, the NYC Department of Education launched Innovate NYC Schools. The initiative was designed to address two related challenges to effectively integrating education technology (ed-tech) into classrooms: First, procurement of ed-tech tools is often hampered by a disconnect between teaching and learning demands on one hand, and developers' supply of tools and services on the other. Educators are not always informed about the tools and interventions that are available, while developers may not fully understand students' and teachers' needs. Second, because the DOE's traditional procurement process via formal Requests for Proposals is lengthy, it may be prevent some developers from bidding, and technology that was brand new when an RFP was released may be outdated by the time it reaches schools.This report focuses on Innovate NYC's Gap App challenge and pilot program, which invited developers to submit an app aimed at solving a specific learning challenge. A number of the apps were then piloted in NYC public schools. During the pilot period, the apps were used in classrooms, and teachers had opportunities to provide feedback directly to developers, in an effort to help make the apps more useful.The report describes the design of the Gap App challenge and the implementation of the pilot program in schools. It then considers whether using a Gap App influenced the way participating teachers and students approached technology in the classroom and provides a set of lessons that may inform future Innovate NYC Schools projects or similar initiatives in other districts.

Bringing Together Mentoring, Technology, and Whole-School Reform: A First Look at the iMentor College Ready Program

July 1, 2015

The iMentor College Ready Program is a unique model that combines elements of school-based mentoring, whole school reform, and technology in an effort to help students develop the knowledge, behaviors, and skills needed to reach and succeed in college. It is an intensive, four-year intervention offered in schools that serve low-income students. Students are paired with volunteer, college-educated mentors and enrolled in an iMentor class led by a school-based iMentor employee.The program has four central elements: A whole school model, which aims to match all incoming 9thgraders with a mentor, and keep them engaged for their full high school careers;A college-readiness curriculum developed by iMentor, taught by iMentor staff in weekly classes, and reinforced during monthly events for mentees and mentors;A "blended" approach to developing relationships between students and their mentor. Students communicate with their mentor primarily through email, but also meet in person at the iMentor events; andA pair support strategy based on a case-management model for tracking mentee-mentor relationship development.The Research Alliance for New York City Schools is conducting an in-depth evaluation of the iMentor College Ready Program in eight New York City high schools. With support from the Social Innovation Fund, the Research Alliance is examining iMentor's roll-out and implementation in these schools, as well as its impact on a range of outcomes related to students' preparation for college. This report is the first in a series from our evaluation. It focuses on iMentor's first year of implementation, which targeted 9th graders in all eight schools. The report provides a detailed description of the four key components of the iMentor College Ready Program and assesses the implementation of these program elements against specific benchmarks established by iMentor. The report also presents a first look at iMentor's effects on 9th graders' outcomes, including their perception of adult support, their aspirations for the future, a set of important college-related "non-cognitive" skills, and several markers of academic achievement.

Digital Collaboration and Classroom Practice: Educator Use of ARIS Connect

June 18, 2014

A major focus of the booming education technology sector is on products that aim to help teachers improve classroom practice. For their part, districts must figure out which of these resources will be most useful to schools. In New York City, the Department of Education developed its own Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS), which was rolled out in 2008. ARIS was an early effort at a system-wide data and teacher collaboration platform, and a major undertaking for the nation's largest school district. In 2011, the Research Alliance received a grant from the Spencer Foundation to investigate how this ambitious initiative played out in schools. Our first report focused on overall use and perceptions of ARIS. In the current phase of our study, we honed our focus onto ARIS Connect -- a component designed specifically to help educators improve their practice by sharing resources, posting questions, and giving one another feedback, both within schools and across the district. Our investigation sought to understand what educators thought of Connect, and whether, as its designers intended, Connect supported their ability to communicate with other educators and improve classroom practice. The study is based on two years of "clickstream" data, which tracks user visits to and navigation through ARIS. We also visited nine middle schools that recorded higher-than-average use of Connect, where we interviewed administrators and held focus groups with teachers. This report presents our findings, including insights on why educators did or did not use Connect; what might have made Connect more useful; and what external tools educators use for similar purposes.