University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
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Photo of mentor with student, representing Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention.

Check & Connect Community Spotlight

Sumner Elementary, Austin Public Schools, Minnesota

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Sumner Elementary in Austin, Minnesota began implementing Check & Connect at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. At the time of this spotlight, this is the second full year of the program. 

Sheila Berger, Sumner Elementary's school principal, spent over two years researching programs that would fit the needs of the Sumner students prior to discovering the University of Minnesota's Check & Connect program. As soon as she learned about Check & Connect she knew it was the perfect fit.  Then it was a matter of finding funding for the program to support existing staff to serve as mentors. Since Check & Connect is an "intervention," the program falls within the same funding guidelines as Reading Intervention and Math Intervention. Five of Sumner's existing staff — including the school principal, an educator, school social worker, and language coaches — were trained as Check & Connect mentors during the summer of 2016. The Check & Connect coordinator, a licensed elementary education teacher, then received additional training to coordinate the program and support mentors.

Scope: Currently Sumner Elementary is the only school in the Austin Public School District that has chosen to implement the Check & Connect program. The Austin Public School District has nine school buildings, four of which are designated first through fourth grades. The Sumner Check & Connect program currently serves 42 students in a school with a population of 320 students.

Student population and grades served: The 42 students served in Sumner's Check & Connect program range from first through fourth grades; however, the program numbers and populations served fluctuate. For instance, in the first half of their second year of implementation (July 31 - December 31, 2017), seven Check & Connect students transferred out of the school, three moved out-of-district, and four moved in-district. Also, a variety of populations are served: some are in foster care, some have incarcerated caregivers, some receive special education services, and some are English language learners.

Referral criteria: Students are referred based on their ABC's — absences/tardies, behavior, and coursework performance — along with any special family circumstances to determine if a student qualifies for the program.

Outcomes: The data from the first year of implementation, as compared to the year prior, shows significant changes. Although attendance/tardy metrics remained the same (no change at 89%), behavior referrals decreased (425%), and course performance levels increased as follows: MONDO reading levels increased (78%), Dibles fluency reading levels increased (57%), Math Unit Test scores increased (10%), standardized reading test scores increased (204 points), and standardized math test scores increased (188 points).

Funded by: Sumner uses existing staff to implement Check & Connect and is funded under the umbrella of "intervention" — the same as district funding for Math Intervention and Reading Intervention teachers.

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Posted January 4, 2018.

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