Teen Trendsetters Program Literacy program fosters love of reading in BPS students T he Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy released the findings of an inde- pendent evaluation on the Teen Trend- setters programs in Maine, in which the Biddeford Schools participate. Teen Trendsetters is a family literacy program that pairs teen mentors with 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade students who are, on average, six months or more behind in reading. Parents sign a contract to support their children by committing to read to them. Teen mentors meet with the mentees weekly and are trained on reading practices. Growing Imaginations facebook/biddefordschooldepartment gram is associated with increases in mentee read- ing skills, as well as positive social/behavioral and academic outcomes for mentors.” Teen mentors developed leadership skills, and some mentors became spokespersons for promoting the pro- gram and literacy aware- ness in their schools. Some of the key findings include: “As the Teen Trend- setters programs are 93% of the participating students complet- launched in Maine, we ed the Teen Trendsetters program. are helping young chil- Analyses found highly reliable increases in dren, their parents and mentee reading performance following teen mentors who are participation in the Teen Trendsetters greatly benefiting from program, which was seen across all their participation,” Liza schools using a variety of assessments. McFadden, CEO and 89% of the seniors who were teen mentors President of the Barba- are attending college in the fall semester. ra Bush Foundation for This percentage far exceeds the 62% rate Family Literacy stated. state-wide of high school graduates “In just one year, we attending college. are seeing meaningful Among those teen mentors attending Dr. Craig A. Mason, results in tackling low professor of Education literacy among children. college, 72% received a scholarship. and Applied Quanti- Dr. Mason’s research tative Methods from illustrates that these the University of Maine, programs are succeeding conducted an independent evaluation of the Teen in impacting the lives of families in Maine.” Trendsetters programs in Maine. He concluded the overall effectiveness of these programs in the A separate study conducted by BETR Group con- state and how both mentees and mentors are cluded that an overwhelming majority of mentees’ benefiting from their participation. parents are also highly engaged in the program. At the beginning of the year, 60% of parents “Early literacy is critical for young children to grow whose children participated in the program would and succeed in school,” said Dr. Mason. “We can read to their children at least twice a week. By have exciting technology and wonderful resourc- the end of the year, the percentage of parents es, but if a child can’t read it may be difficult or who read to their children twice a week sharply impossible to fully benefit from the educational increased to 89%. opportunities available to them.” These impressive results highlight the power of In the report, Dr. Mason noted “the results suggest quality mentoring programs to build stronger com- that participation in the Teen Trendsetters pro- munities in Maine and nationwide.