University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

Photo of mentor with student, representing Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention.

Check & Connect Online Resources

Videos, Flyers, and Webpages Describing Check & Connect

The following resources provide additional information about Check & Connect to help you (or your administrators) decide whether or not to implement the model at your site:

Sample Implementation Tools

The following tools are a small sampling of the electronic materials provided to participants at Check & Connect trainings. These tools are for Check & Connect mentors and coordinators working with youth at their site:


The following presentations illustrate the Check & Connect intervention model:

Conference logo
Check & Connect Conference Website (October 7-8, 2015)
Check & Connect celebrated 25 years (1990-2015) by hosting our first national conference to bring together leading experts and practitioners from around the country and overseas to address the topic of student engagement among at-risk youth. This event was geared towards both professionals implementing Check & Connect's evidence-based student engagement intervention model and those interested in learning more about student engagement in general and Check & Connect specifically. Participants came to learn from experts in the field, share lessons learned, and gain tools for implementing Check & Connect with fidelity and sustaining their site's implementation to support at-risk students in reaching their goals and graduating high school.

Resources from "Engaging Students with School: The Essential Dimension of Dropout Prevention Programs" Webinar (January 22, 2008) (Presentation Slides | Transcript w/ Q&A | Audio MP4)
In this National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities Webseminar, Dr. Sandra Christenson, one of the creators of Check & Connect, described universal and individualized interventions for students with and without disabilities. Viewing engagement as comprised of four subtypes, she explained the ideal heuristic to achieve an assessment-to-intervention link, as well as data-based interventions that maximize the goodness of the person/environment fit. Dr. Christenson also discussed effective interventions for students at risk of educational failure with a focus not only on attendance and academic skills, but also on indicators of students’ commitment to learning, perceptions of academic and social competence, and the sense of belonging.

Resources From “Preventing High School Dropout: Understanding the Underlying Issues and Useful Strategies to Address the Problem” Webinar (December 13, 2006)
This National High School Center Webinar on Dropout Prevention addressed research in the field and highlighted state strategies for preventing students from dropping out. Featured presenters included Russell Rumberger, University of California, Santa Barbara, Professor and Director of Linguistic Minority Research Institute; Cammy Lehr, Coordinator of the Dropout Prevention, Retention, and Graduation Initiative at the Minnesota Department of Education (and formerly of the Institute on Community Integration); and Glory Kibbel, Interim Director of Choice and Equity for the School Choice Programs and Services Division, Minnesota Department of Education.

Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Reports and Reviews

The following reports from the What Works Clearinghouse discuss the merits of Check & Connect against IES criteria:

WWC Intervention Report: A Summary of Findings From a Systematic Review of the Evidence (2015)
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified two studies of Check & Connect that both fall within the scope of the Dropout Prevention topic area and meet WWC group design standards. Two studies meet WWC group design standards without reservations. Together, these studies included 238 students who attended Minneapolis high schools and entered the program in the beginning of ninth grade. These two studies include students that receive special education services for a learning, emotional, or behavioral disability

What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report: Children Classified as Having an Emotional Disturbance: Check & Connect (2011)
The What Works Clearinghouse identified 25 studies of Check & Connect for children classified as having an emotional disturbance that were published or released between 1989 and 2011. Three studies are within the scope of the Children Classified as Having an Emotional Disturbance review protocol but do not meet evidence standards. Twenty-two studies are outside the scope of the Children Classified as Having an Emotional Disturbance review protocol.

IES Practice Guide: What Works Clearinghouse: Dropout Prevention (2008)
Geared toward educators, administrators, and policymakers, this guide provides recommendations that focus on reducing high school dropout rates. Strategies presented include identifying and advocating for at-risk students, implementing programs to improve behavior and social skills, and keeping students engaged in the school environment. The process for deriving the recommendations began by collecting and examining research studies that have evaluated the impacts of dropout prevention programs. This review relied heavily, but not exclusively, on the existing reviews of dropout prevention programs that meet the evidence standards of the What Works Clearinghouse.

What Works Clearinghouse Intervention: Dropout Prevention: Check & Connect (2006)
One study of Check & Connect met the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards, and a second study met WWC standards with reservations. The two studies included a total of more than 200 students attending Minneapolis high schools. In both studies the students entered the program at the beginning of the ninth grade. The studies examined the program’s effects in three dropout prevention domains considered by the WWC: staying in school, progressing in school, and completing school. Check & Connect was found to have positive effects on staying in school and potentially positive effects on progressing in school.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

The following online journal articles and book chapters present scholarly information about Check & Connect (for a full listing of all journal articles, book chapters, and other scholarly publications about Check & Connect and related topics, see the References, Publications, & Resources page):

Check & Connect: Enhancing School Completion Through Student Engagement (2010)
Authors: Christenson, S. L., & Reschly, A. L.

In this chapter from the Handbook of Youth Prevention Science, procedures for implementing Check & Connect, an evidence-based model of student engagement that stems from relationships, are described.

Family-School-Peer Relationships: Significance for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning (2004)
Christenson, S. L., & Havsy, L. H.
The goals of this chapter in the book entitled Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? are a) to summarize the effect of family-school-peer influences on student engagement and school success, b) to describe Check & Connect, a social and emotional learning (SEL) intervention, and c) to offer recommendations for future research, practice, and policy to address the needs of students at risk for educational failure.

PDF Facilitating Student Engagement: Lessons Learned from Check & Connect Longitudinal Studies (2003)
Authors: Sinclair, M. F., Christenson, S. L., Lehr, C. A., & Anderson, A. R.

This article from the California School Psychologist (pp. 29-41) offers lessons learned from years of applied research on student engagement, dropout prevention, and school completion. This article begins with a summary of theoretical constructs that guided the development of Check & Connect and continues with descriptions of multiple applications of this targeted intervention. The roles of key personnel are identified and seven core elements of the model are highlighted including the importance of “persistence plus,” relationship building and individualized intervention. Considerations for effective implementation, derived from the experiences of longitudinal implementation studies, are discussed.

Check and Connect: The Role of Monitors in Supporting High-Risk Youth (1997)
Authors: Christenson, S. L., Hurley, C. M., Hirsch, J. A., Kau, M., Evelo, D., & Bates, W.
This article in Reaching Today’s Youth: The Community Circle of Caring Journal, describes the role of the monitor in Check & Connect and how aspects of the monitor's role are relevant to all professionals who work with disengaged youth. "During our seven years of experience with federally funded intervention projects for high-risk youth, we have developed a system of support that helps even the most challenging young people meet school standards. . . . The system of support we developed to meet these goals is a monitoring procedure referred to as “Check & Connect” (Sinclair, Christenson, Hurley, & Evelo, 1997), facilitated by a category of professionals we call “monitors.” . . . While monitors, as described in this article, hold a very specific position in our intervention projects, the factors that help them succeed are relevant for anyone working to reconnect with hard-to-reach youth."

ABC Dropout Prevention and Intervention Series

The following reports are based on the findings of three federally-funded dropout prevention programs – ALAS (Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success), Belief Academy, and Check & Connect:

Tip the Balance: Policies and Practices that Influence School Engagement for Youth at High Risk for Dropping Out (1995)
Authors: Christenson, S. L., Sinclair, M. F., Evelo, D., & Thurlow, M.
This report discusses the barriers and supports to effectively intervening and achieving school completion among high-risk students.

Relationship Building & Affiliation Activities in School-based Dropout Prevention Programs (1995)
Authors: Edgar, E., & Johnson, E.

This report highlights school affiliation and bonding strategies to prevent students from dropping out of school, including maintaining persistent, long-term contact with students; adapting school rules; establishing discipline procedures and polices for exceptional students; and facilitating student participation in school-sponsored activities.

PACT Manual: Parent and Community Teams for School Success (1995)
Authors: Larson, K., & Rumberger, R.
This manual describes the PACT (Parent And Community Team) for School Success concept, which was developed from insights and techniques gained from three dropout and intervention projects with high-risk junior high youth and families--ALAS (Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success), Belief Academy, and Check & Connect.

Staying in School: A Technical Report of Three Dropout Prevention Projects for Middle School Students with Learning and Emotional Disabilities (1995)
Editor: Thornton, H.
This report compiles data on three federally-funded dropout prevention programs: ALAS (Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success), Belief Academy, and Check & Connect.

Staying in School: Strategies for Middle School Students with Learning and Emotional Disabilities (1995)
Authors: Thurlow, M. L., Christenson, S. L., Sinclair, M. F., & Evelo, D. L.

This report discusses five interrelated intervention elements that have been demonstrated to be effective in assisting youth to stay in school: monitoring; relationships; affiliation; problem solving; and persistence, continuity, and consistency.

Other Resources

The following resources discuss dropout prevention and school completion more broadly:

PDF Approaches to Dropout Prevention: Heeding Early Warning Signs with Appropriate Interventions (2007)
This report by the National High School Center, at the American Institutes for Research, outlines steps that high schools can take to identify at-risk students and identifies specific dropout prevention programs that have strong research showing positive or potentially positive effects, including Check & Connect, Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success (ALAS), and Career Academies.

Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs: A Technical Report (2007)
This study, conducted by the National Dropout Prevention Center and sponsored by Communities In Schools, Inc., finds that there are multiple risk factors which increase the likelihood that students will drop out. The evidence clearly shows that dropout is always the result of a long process of disengagement that sometimes begins before the child enrolls in kindergarten. The report also provides information on 50 programs that were found to be effective in addressing these risk factors, including Check & Connect.

PDF Investments in K-12 Education for Minnesota: What Works? (2007)
In this conference paper, Henry M. Levin, a professor at Columbia University, and Clive R. Belfield, an assistant professor at Queens College, examined the public costs of a high school dropout on Minnesota taxpayers, then looked at the cost of programs that boost high school graduation rates. Voila: a positive cost-benefit ratio for several programs, including Check & Connect. Levin and Belfield presented this report at an education summit sponsored by Growth and Justice, a Minnesota think tank that focuses on the state’s economy.

Keeping Kids in School: What Research Tells Us About Preventing Dropouts (2007)
This guide from the Center for Public Education, an initiative of the National School Boards Association and the National School Boards Foundation, describes several dropout prevention programs/initiatives, including Check & Connect.

A Comprehensive Approach to Promoting School Completion in Minneapolis (2004)
This article in the Institute on Community Integration's Impact: Feature Issue on Achieving Secondary Education and Transition Results for Students with Disabilities, describes how, in June 2001, Minneapolis Public Schools received a grant from the Bush Foundation to support a targeted effort to reach youth at highest risk for dropping out of school, which includes youth with disabilities. This effort comprised several initiatives, including Check & Connect.

Current Challenges Facing the Future of Secondary Education and Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities in the United States (2004)
This discussion paper, published by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, presents findings from research identifying key issues influencing the implementation of federal legislation relating to transition services at state and local levels; examines the impact of national organizations, government reports, policy groups, and the courts on secondary education and transition services; and presents the major challenges that the Center must begin to address immediately. Check & Connect is explored under Challenge 3: Increase the school completion rates of students with disabilities.

Essential Tools: Increasing Rates of School Completion: Moving from Policy and Research to Practice: A Manual for Policymakers, Administrators, and Educators (2004)
This report, published by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, offers a synthesis of research-based dropout prevention and intervention strategies, with information about specific programs and evidence of their effectiveness, including Check & Connect.

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