The Causes of Truancy and Dropout: A Mixed-Methods Experimental Study in Chicago Public Schools

What factors influence the effectiveness of structured mentoring and monitoring interventions designed to reduce school truancy and dropouts?

Despite evidence demonstrating the harmful effects of truancy and dropouts on youth, few interventions designed to reduce these show positive results. This project takes advantage of a large trial including 540 students—funded by the Institute of Education Sciences—of Check and Connect, a structured mentoring and monitoring intervention. Through Check and Connect, adult mentors strive to improve youths’ educational outcomes through systematic monitoring of school progress (“check”), timely interactions and interventions with the youth (“connect”), and interactions with the family to promote communication and family support for learning. Mentors work with students and families for two years and are trained in methods for promoting school engagement. The William T. Grant-funded study will focus on a random subsample of 108 fourth and ninth grade students—76 will participate in the intervention, 16 are from schools in the control group, and the remaining 16 students are in experimental schools but not receiving the intervention directly. Using mixed-methods, the researchers will examine how the intervention promotes and sustains student engagement and improves student outcomes. They will also examine what determines engagement with school and learning for elementary and high school students, and how and why engagement may vary by developmental level and family or school setting.

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