Check & Connect
What is Check & Connect?
Check & Connect is a comprehensive student engagement and dropout prevention intervention that is directed toward students who demonstrate signs of disengagement and appear to be at risk of dropping out of school. Florida’s State Personnel Development Grant provides technical assistance and trainings to school sites implementing Check & Connect.
Key Features of Check & Connect
- Preventive: Check & Connect focuses on watching for signs of withdrawal and providing timely interventions to keep students engaged.
- Builds Capacity: Check & Connect works with students to build new skills such as problem-solving and goal setting.
- Efficient and Adaptable: Check & Connect builds on existing programs, services and resources within the home, school and community.
- Provides Outreach: Check & Connect creates long‐term trusting connections between schools, youth and families.
- Individualized: Check & Connect uses a systematic and organized approach, focusing on the needs of each individual student.
How does Check & Connect work?
First and foremost, Check & Connect is about relationship building. Each student participating in Check & Connect is assigned a mentor. Check & Connect mentors seek to build long‐term, sustained relationships with participating students that will connect them with their school and help them make academic progress. Studies show that Check & Connect improves enrollment, attendance and the likelihood of graduation for students who are disengaged and at risk of dropping out of school. In addition Check & Connect has also demonstrated its effectiveness in supporting students with emotional/behavioral disabilities to improve school attendance and increase student participation in their transition individual educational plan (IEP) meetings (Sinclair et al., 1998; Sinclair & Kaibel, 2002; Sinclair et al., 2005).
The mentor plays a key role in the Check & Connect model. The mentor develops a dependable, persistent relationship with the student, built on mutual trust, which focuses on problem-solving, fostering coping skills and encouraging the student to maximize personal growth and learning. Through the mentoring relationship the following Check & Connect components are addressed:
- The “check” component – Systematic monitoring of student performance variables.
- The “connect” component – Providing timely, individualized, data-based interventions to support the student’s needs for engagement.
- Parent/family engagement – Mentors function as liaisons between home and school, striving to build strong family-school partnerships.
The Check & Connect coordinator functions as an organizer who could potentially take on the responsibility to identify students in need of Check & Connect services; recruit mentors; schedule trainings and technical assistance, and monitor program development with attention to fidelity. Check & Connect’s Project Director and Project Facilitators provide training and technical assistance at every stage of implementation.
Check & Connect Training
The State Personnel Development Grant provides trainings to Check & Connect sites; a one-day Preparation and Implementation session and a two-day Mentor training to name the two original Check & Connect trainings. The Preparation and Implementation session is targeted for school and district leadership teams. This session walks the team through an 11-step planning process to prepare for implementation at a specific local site. Mentor training prepares the individual mentors to implement the Check & Connect model. SPDG offers this training in locations throughout the state. Additionally, SPDG has developed trainings for Coordinators as well as an additional refresher training for Mentors after their first year of mentoring.
For those districts interested in Check & Connect, without the SPDG funding, there is no cost for the training for non-SPDG schools. The training is on a space-available basis. For information about upcoming sessions and training opportunities, contact Peg Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director SPDG Administration Project.
National Check and Connect website
The Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, is home to Check & Connect. The website has excellent introductory information for administrators, videos, online resources, information on communities of practice and research about Check & Connect.
Check & Connect Manual, Implementing with Fidelity
This manual provides detailed information on Check & Connect's theoretical foundations, components, elements and steps for implementation.
Grounded in Research
Check & Connect is a nationally recognized program with proven success. Of the dropout prevention interventions reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, Check & Connect is the only program found to have strong evidence of positive effects on staying in school.
Check & Connect was developed through a partnership between the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration and Minneapolis Public Schools. Since its inception in 1990, Check & Connect has been studied and implemented with K–12 students with and without disabilities, in suburban and urban settings. Check & Connect is currently being implemented by schools and community organizations across the U.S. as well as abroad.
Sinclair, M. F., Christenson, S. L., Evelo, D. L., & Hurley, C. M. (1998). Dropout prevention for youth with disabilities: Efficacy of a sustained school engagement procedure. Exceptional Children, 65(1), 7–21.
Sinclair, M. F., Christenson, S. L., & Thurlow, M. L. (2005). Promoting school completion of urban secondary youth with emotional or behavioral disabilities. Exceptional Children, 71(4), 465–482.
Sinclair, M. F., & Kaibel, C. (2002). Dakota County: Secondary Check & Connect programs: School Success Check & Connect program evaluation final summary report. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.
For more information, contact Florida’s Check & Connect Project Manager or visit checkandconnect.umn.edu.
Lael Engstrom, MSW, Project Director