ICI Awarded $2.5 Million, Five-Year Award to Implement Technology to Promote High School Graduation

Publication date: 
September 26, 2017

ICI has been awarded a $2.5 million “Stepping-Up Technology Implementation” grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to develop technology tools that support the national implementation of two evidence-based web applications over the next five years. For more than 26 years, the Check & Connect intervention model has helped keep thousands of students across the country on track towards graduation. The Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) is the second web application that will be utilized in the project. SEI is a screening tool that establishes reliable and valid measures of students’ cognitive and affective engagement. This “Stepping Up” project will develop, pilot, and disseminate web-based tools (i.e., interactive web site, online professional development, manuals and guides, and other specific technology resources) that support the implementation of these two particular interventions. David R. Johnson is Principal Investigator (PI) on the project; Eileen A. Klemm will serve as Co-PI.

“We are thrilled to receive this note of confidence from our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Education,” says ICI director David R. Johnson. “The Check & Connect model is a well-established intervention that has proven to work with disengaged students. We look forward to further developing the technology support system that will enable its national implementation.”

The new project will be conducted in three phases. The first phase (years 1-2; including 3 total schools) will involve initial iterative development of the supporting technology tools. The second phase (years 3-4, involving 4 total schools) will feature a pilot program to further develop and evaluate the technology tools and resources with test sites. If approved, the team moves into the third phase (year 5, featuring 10 total schools) where they will implement and continue to evaluate the specific tools in the additional schools that will become first time end-users. A formative and summative evaluation process will be designed and implemented by an evaluation coordinator to provide continuous feedback on all project activities. A dissemination plan will also be developed as part of the project’s scope.

Check & Connect is an evidence-based mentoring intervention for K-12 students who show signs of disengagement from school and may be at risk of dropping out. At the core of the Check & Connect model is a trusting relationship between student and a dedicated Mentor. Students are referred to a Check & Connect Mentor when they have poor attendance, behavioral issues, and/or low grades. The Mentor both advocates for and challenges students to keep education salient using systematic "Check" and "Connect" procedures. Check & Connect is the only dropout prevention intervention listed on the IES What Works Clearinghouse found to have positive effects on staying in school.