Check & Connect
Florida's State Personnel Development Grant
Florida's State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), Graduation for All (2017-2022), provides technical assistance and professional development to targeted school districts across Florida. Participating Middle and High Schools receive information, materials and coaching necessary to implement Check & Connect and/or the Strategic Instructional Model (SIM™).
Graduation for All represents the second SPDG in FL providing support for Check & Connect and/or SIM™ to improve outcomes for secondary students with disabilities. The prior grant titled, Successful Graduates (2012-2017), supported participating schools for a period of two years and demonstrated a positive impact on improving graduation and dropout rates. Specifically, 73% of implementation sites reported a positive trend with federal uniform graduation rate and 50% demonstrated a decline in federal dropout rate during the previous grant.
Building on these successes, the current award aims to amplify capacity building at the district level to facilitate sustainability of implementation for both initiatives.
In addition to providing support to districts participating in the grant, the program serves as a statewide resource for information on Check & Connect, overseeing a large cadre of local Check & Connect trainers and connecting districts to local and national resources for implementation.
Funding: Florida's SPDG is a five-year project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP, #H323A170031), United States Department of Education.
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- University of South Florida–St. Petersburg
- Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) Administration/HRD Project
- Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota
What is Check & Connect?
Check & Connect is a comprehensive student engagement and dropout prevention program for students at risk of dropping out of school. Florida’s State Personnel Development Grant provides technical assistance and professional development to participating districts implementing Check & Connect.
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.
Critical Components of Check & Connect
- Mentor: who works with students and families for a minimum of two years
- Check: systematic monitoring of data schools already collect on students’ behavior, attendance and course performance
- Connect: timely interventions driven by data, to reestablish and maintain students’ connection to school and learning and to enhance students’ social and academic competencies
- Family Engagement: mentors engage with parents and other caretakers to foster their active participation in their child’s education
How does Check & Connect work?
First and foremost, Check & Connect is about relationship building. Each student participating in Check & Connect is paired with a mentor. Check & Connect mentors seek to build long‐term, sustained relationships with participating students that will promote connections to school and academic progress.
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. Mentors are often existing school staff, although dedicated mentors hired solely for this role as well as volunteers from the community are also utilized.
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 coordinates and provides Check & Connect trainings across Florida including:
- Preparation and Implementation Training (developed by Check & Connect National): a one day session that is targeted for school and district leadership teams. This training guides the team through an 11-step planning process to prepare for implementation at a specific local site.
- Mentor Training (Developed by Check & Connect National): a two-day training session that prepares individual mentors to implement the Check & Connect model.
- Coordinator Orientation (Developed by FL SPDG): a three hour training that prepares individuals coordinating Check & Connect at a specific site.
- Mentor and Coordinator Summits (Developed by FL SPDG): these trainings provide refresher or booster sessions for mentors and coordinators which foster additional skill building, reflection on implementation success and challenges and action planning for improved implementation.
- Train-the-Trainer Workshops (conducted by Check & Connect National): approximately 80 local Check & Connect trainers have been certified through support from SPDG. SPDG coordinates initial and ongoing trainings required for certified trainers with the national office. The next Check & Connect Train-the-Trainer session will be held in the summer of 2020.
Trainings are scheduled based on participating district needs but open to all FL districts on a space-available basis. For information about upcoming sessions and training opportunities, a public training calendar is available below or you may contact Elaine Miller (email@example.com), Check & Connect Program Director.
For more information on upcoming trainings click on the calendar below.
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. Download the Check & Connect Intervention report here.
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 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)
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.
National Mentoring Partnership
The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) is the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States. MENTOR provides resources and essential tools to mentoring programs nationwide and are free and available to the public on their website.
FL Check & Connect Coordinator Toolbox: Coordinators may access resources, videos, document files as well as communicate with fellow coordinators across the state on Basecamp. If you are a coordinator and are unable to access this toolbox please contact your district’s facilitator (see contact information below).
FL Check & Connect Trainer Toolbox: Local trainers may access resources, videos, document files, certification information, as well as communicate with fellow Trainers across the state on Basecamp. If you are a trainer and unable to access this toolbox please contact the Check & Connect Program Director (see contact information below).
FL SPDG Data Portal: Staff at participating districts may access the SPDG data portal to update or view current action plan, complete surveys, and view school, district and state SPDG data and graphs in real-time.
Florida’s State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG): Successful Graduates (2012-2017) Flyer
Florida’s SPDG is a five-year project funded by the USDOE, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The grant planning was designed to respond to concerns about the graduation, proficiency and dropout rates of students with disabilities.
Florida Check & Connect: Key Project Information
Florida’s State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) Infographic (2012-2018)
Family Engagement for Mentors
The SPDG created a series of modules related to the topic of family engagement and mentors roles. They were developed to specifically align with the Check & Connect core components and include:
1. Home - School Communication
2. Building Relationships and Establishing Guidelines
3. Home Visits and Support for Learning
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.
Elaine Miller, Project Director
Greg Gillman, North/Central Florida Facilitator
Districts served: Bradford, Gadsden, Holmes, Marion, Volusia
Sheila Ward, Central/South Florida Facilitator
Districts served: Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hendry, Polk