Mentoring for At-Risk High School Students: Findings From a Study of Check & Connect

To improve graduation rates, districts and schools need clear, evidence-based information about the impact of dropout prevention strategies. Check & Connect, which has been implemented in 27 states and internationally, is a mentoring program designed to promote positive outcomes (including student engagement, progress and persistence, and school completion) through the provision of continuous, individualized student support. This research brief describes a longitudinal study of Check & Connect in a large, urban district in California.

Check & Connect aims to promote student engagement in school and learning and thereby improve academic performance and persistence and, ultimately, help students graduate. In the check component, mentors monitor indicators of student engagement in school (e.g., attendance, disciplinary referrals, and educational progress). In the connect component, mentors seek to intervene in a timely manner to reestablish and maintain students’ connection to school and learning by enhancing students’ academic and social competencies and by improving home–school communication.

The study examined the impact of Check & Connect on engagement, academic performance, and educational attainment among general education students at heightened risk of not graduating from high school. Specifically, this brief addresses the following questions:

  • Implementation: How was Check & Connect implemented in a large, urban district with general education students identified as being at risk of not graduating from high school?
  • Service Contrast: What academic supports did study participants receive, including those who were not assigned a Check & Connect mentor?
  • Impact: What was the impact of Check & Connect on general education students’ engagement, academic, and attainment outcomes?



Principal Researcher
Jessica Heppen
President and CEO