Jonathan Guryan, Sandra Christenson, Amy Claessens, Mimi Engel, Ijun Lai, Jens Ludwig, Ashley Cureton Turner, and Mary Clair Turner
This working paper presents results from a randomized evaluation of a student monitoring and mentoring program aimed at increasing student attendance. The program, called Check & Connect (C&C), provided a mentor to 765 first-to-eighth-grade students in 23 schools in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. Mentors tracked data to monitor students' attendance and academic progress and met regularly with students to deliver personalized interventions meant to increase attendance and engagement with school. The researchers find that participation lowered student absences for students who started the program in fifth to seventh grade by a statistically significant 3.4 days, but there was no statistically significant effect for students who began the program in first through fourth grade. However, for both cohorts of students, the effect of participating in C&C was larger in the second year of the intervention, suggesting that student-mentor relationships might be an important mechanism for the program. The evaluation did not uncover significant effects on grade point average, but did find a statistically significant decline in courses failed. There were mixed results for test scores, but no evidence that test scores increased significantly.