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Efficacy Study of Check & Connect to Improve Student Outcomes

Check & Connect (C&C) is a comprehensive, manualized student engagement intervention developed to promote school success and completion for secondary school students at high risk of school failure and dropout, including students with emotional disturbances. C&C was developed by the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. It is considered a research-based intervention model to increase student engagement at school and with learning.

Fundamental to the intervention is a relationship of mutual trust and open communication between the targeted student and a mentor, who regularly checks on the student’s school adjustment, behavior, and educational progress, and intervenes to reestablish and maintain the student’s connection to school and learning and to enhance his or her social and academic competencies.

For the National Center for Special Education Research and in partnership with ICI, SRI is conducting a longitudinal randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of C&C as implemented in five large urban high schools. Incoming ninth-graders in fall 2012 are eligible to participate if their eighth-grade school records indicate they are at-risk of dropping out.

An estimated sample of 374 eligible and consented students will be randomly assigned within schools to receive C&C mentor support for up to three years or to be in a “business-as-usual” comparison group. SRI data collectors will implement the Student Engagement Instrument to assess cognitive and affective engagement, and will obtain students’ school records to assess behavioral and academic engagement and progress toward and achievement of a high school credential. Teachers will complete the Social Skills Improvement System-Teacher Form to further illuminate academic and behavioral engagement.

Measures of implementation fidelity, mentor-student alliance, and social validity will be used to assess these potential moderators of intervention effect, as well as student, family, and school context factors. Measures will be repeated each spring for the three intervention years as long as students remain in school; dropouts will be tracked to assess return to school or enrollment in alternative degree programs.

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