The successful impact of the Peer Helpers PLUS program is backed by evidence.

View our collection of case studies, articles, and references to learn more about how our program improves school climate, and the effectiveness of implementing Peer Helpers in your own school system.

Growing Potential Case Study

In 2018, Growing Potential did a case study on the effectiveness of the Peer Helpers PLUS program.  Two outcome assessment instruments were developed for the Peer Helpers PLUS program, to measure academic, social, and emotional achievement.

The instruments were:
A Program Coordinator Survey: to collect data on student participant, academic achievement, absents, and disciplinary actions;

A Mentee / Tutee Survey: for teachers to measure emotional and social changes in the behavior of student participants who were being mentored or tutored by a trained Peer Helper.

The instruments were designed in a pre-post test format, allowing Peer Helpers Coordinators and participating teachers to track participant progress by semester and by academic year.

A sampling of student participants from Peer Helpers PLUS programs in both high schools and elementary schools participated in instrument field-testing. The outcomes are listed below.

Peer Helpers Program results - academics
Peer Helpers Program results - social behavior

On February 21, 2019,

The Alabama State Prevention Advisory Board approved the Peer Helpers PLUS program to be an Evidence-Based Strategy.

American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Position

ASCA believes peer support programs are a means of helping students develop social/emotional competencies, define positive values -- including personal responsibility, and learn pro-social behaviors (Varenhorst, 2004).

Furthermore ASCA believes the effectiveness of school counseling programs is enhanced by the informed implementation of a peer support program, which can provide increased outreach and expansion of services.

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The Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation

The Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation has reviewed Peer Helper Programs in the published literature, and determined that they have been found to improve social and emotional skills, academic self-esteem, and school connectedness among peer helpers and those they support (King et al., 2009, Karcher, 2009).

These outcomes have been found to serve as protective factors, and are associated with reduced ATODs (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs) use among adolescents (Cleveland et al., 2008).

King., K.A., Vidourek, R.A., Davis, B., McClellan, W.  (2009). Increasing self-esteem and school connectedness through a multi-dimensional mentoring program. School Health.

Karcher, M. (2009). Increases in Academic Connectedness and Self-Esteem among High School Students who Serve as Cross-Age Peer Mentors. Professional School Counseling.

Cleveland, M., J., Feinberg, M., Bontempo, D.E., Greenberg, M. (2008). The Role of Risk and Protective Factors in Substance Use Across Adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(2), 157-164.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) Framework

The Peer Helpers PLUS program is modeled on the evidence-based Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework. Positive Youth Development refers to intentional efforts of other youth, adults, communities, government agencies and schools to provide opportunities for youth to enhance their interests, skills, and abilities. Based on the literature, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, a collaboration of

20 federal departments and agencies that support youth, has created the following definition of positive youth development (PYD):

PYD is an intentional, prosocial approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances young people’s strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths. 

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