The Foundation for Youth Development’s Project K programme runs for 14 months and provides learning experiences outside the classroom for students in association with schools throughout the country. Project K involves a wilderness adventure, a community challenge and 12 months of one-on-one mentoring. It is aimed at students in Year 10 of secondary school (14-15-year-olds) who are identified as at-risk of under achievement.
This report presents the findings of the outcome evaluation of Project K carried out by the Centre for Social Research and Evaluation (CSRE), Ministry of Social Development (MSD), over the period September 2004 through June 2007.
The evaluation was conducted in partnership with the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD).
A randomised control trial (RCT) was used to evaluate outcomes for young people who articipated in the Project K mentoring-based programme. The evaluation was designed to measure gains in academic performance, social and health outcomes, help-seeking, career decisions and other behaviours.
Project K participants improved their ability to master academic activities (e.g. How well can you pay attention during class? How well can you finish school assignments?). There was significantly greater improvement for Project K participants than control group students at the end of the intervention and one year post programme. A similar trend was found for New Zealand Māori, female and low decile school students.
- Project K students showed significantly greater improvement than the control group in their ability to form and maintain peer relationships and social assertiveness in the classroom (e.g. How well can you become friends with other people? How well can you take part in class discussions?) at the end of the intervention and one year post programme. A similar trend was found for New Zealand European students, males, female, low and high decile school students. Male students benefited more than females.
- Improvement in the ability to ask for adult help, information and support (e.g. How well can you get adults to help you with a problem? How well can you get the information you need from adults?) was not as marked as other outcomes. Overall, the Project K group showed significantly greater improvement on this measure than the control group at the end of the intervention. However, these gains were not maintained at one year post programme. Low decile school and female students benefited more than high decile school and male students.
- New Zealand European and Māori Project K students showed significantly greater abilities to make good career decisions and successfully execute career-related behaviours (e.g. Work out what job would be best for you; Perform well in a job interview) than the control group students at one year post programme. Project K students from high decile schools also showed significantly greater career decision self-efficacy relative to the control group.
- No changes were observed between groups on measures of health and lifestyle. However, risky behaviour increased significantly for both groups over time.
- National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results were measured only at one year after Project K completion. New Zealand Māori students who participated in Project K showed significantly higher average total NCEA credits than their counterparts in the control group. Overall, Project K students earned more NCEA credits than those in the control group, but differences were not statistically significant.