Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

The Influence of Upward Bound on Freshman Grade Point Average, Drop-Out Rates, Mathematics Performance, and English Performance

Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

The Influence of Upward Bound on Freshman Grade Point Average, Drop-Out Rates, Mathematics Performance, and English Performance

Article excerpt

Introduction

Over the years, researchers have evaluated Upward Bound to determine its effect on students' academic achievement and performance. They have measured the success of Upward Bound programs by analyzing the number of participants who graduate from high school and the number who enter postsecondary education institutions. Other researchers have measured participants' high school grades in specific subjects, high school grade point average (GPA), college grades in specific subjects, or college GPA. Some studies have found that Upward Bound or components of the program have a positive effect on students' academic achievement and performance; others have found that the program had no impact or a negative impact.

Existing Research

Although their approaches vary, the following studies found Upward Bound to have a positive influence on students' academic performance.

Comparing students' performance on the Metropolitan High School Achievement Test, McCormick and Williams (1974) found that students benefit more from the summer residential portion of the Upward Bound program than from the tutorial portion which takes place during the academic year. Henderson (1968) compared the academic performance of a group of Upward Bound students to a comparable group of non-Upward Bound students and found that Upward Bound had a positive influence on the participants' mean academic grade. Billings (1968) examined the number of Upward Bound students entering colleges and universities and their retention rates and suggested that Upward Bound was successful in preparing students academically for college curricula. Farrow (1977) compared the performance of a group of Upward Bound students to a comparable group of non-Upward Bound students and found the college success rate for Upward Bound participants to be significantly higher than for the non-participant group. Exum and Young (1981) evaluated the academic performance of Upward Bound students in grades 9, 10, and 11 selected from schools in northwestern Iowa and southwestern Minnesota. Comparing pretest and posttest means, they found a positive relationship between Upward Bound participation and students' academic performance at the secondary and postsecondary education levels. Comparing the scores of program participants with a control group, Poulos (1982) found that the pretest and posttest gains of program participants were generally higher than the control group gains in reading comprehension and mathematics. Young's (1980) longitudinal study of an Upward Bound program found that most participants made academic gains.

Conversely, Bybee (1969) found that Upward Bound had no impact on students' performance in science even though, in his study, the Upward Bound students received special lectures and support materials in science. Burkheimer, Riccobono and Wisenbaker (1979) found no significant difference between the GPA of Upward Bound participants and nonparticipants. Further, when they stratified the data by type of postsecondary educational institution (i.e., two-year, vocational, or four-year institutions) their findings revealed that the GPA of Upward Bound participants was lower than that of nonparticipants. The United States Comptroller General (1974) said that "limited data shows [sic] that, although Upward Bound apparently has motivated students to seek a college education it does not appear to have been effective in achieving its goal of equipping students with the skills needed to succeed in college (p. 31)."

Purpose

This study examines the influence Upward Bound has on freshmen participants' GPA, drop-out rate, and mathematics and English grades. Comparing the performance of Upward Bound freshmen with that of a control group may provide insight as to how well one university's Upward Bound program prepares students for their first year of college courses. Although this analysis provides an evaluation of the specific Upward Bound program used in the study, the findings also may offer general information that may be applicable to other programs. …

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