Freshman Focus study results shared

WEST MILTON — The Freshman Focus Program was the topic of a recent study from Wright State University and was discussed at the Milton-Union board of education meeting June 15.

Freshman Focus began in 2007 to help freshmen get assimilated to high school and the expectations. Statistically, students begin to drop out of high school once they reach freshmen year, and combating the slide was one of the goals of the program.

“We were also looking to help bridge that divide between freshmen and upperclassmen students,” guidance counselor and founder Paula Shaw said. “We know that students who are more likely to stay in school and graduate have one adult they are bonded with at the school. If one of our freshmen couldn’t bond with an adult but developed a relationship with an upperclassman, we felt that would be just as if not more meaningful.”

The Wright State University study through the College of Education and Human Services examined the program.

Nancy Clark, a graduate of the Master of Science in Leadership Development Program, looked at graduation rates and grade point averages prior to the program. She then study figures after it was implemented, as well as student reports of inclusion, emotional support and trust between freshman students and their upperclassmen mentors.

The results found that since 2007, the graduation rate increased 2.9 percent from 83.4 percent of students graduating in the 2007-2008 school year to 91.9 percent graduating in 2012-2013.

The students who had the lowest grade point averages found their GPAs increased, which lead to an improved graduation rate. As the lowest GPA band decreased, the middle band increased.

The most significant finding came in a 114 percent increase in freshman expectations of the program and their student mentors.

“The mentors provided the freshmen someone they could trust,” Clark said. “You don’t know what is going on in every student’s home life or what kind of support they’re getting, so having that mentor-protege relationship and trust established is what has helped freshman students feel included in the school and graduate.”

The next board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. July 20 in the board room.