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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Education for Youth Under Formal Supervision of the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2019
18 pages

This literature review outlines the academic characteristics and challenges for youth in the juvenile justice system, along with interventions intended to improve educational outcomes for this high-risk population.


Literature related to educational risk factors linked to juvenile and adult offending, justice system involvement, and recidivism indicates that multiple factors related to attachment to school and school academic performance are linked to antisocial behavior, offending, and involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice systems. A review of the literature that focuses on the provision of education for youth in residential facilities addresses screening and assessment to determine educational needs, effective instructional approaches in secure juvenile facilities, and the provision of education for youth with special educational needs. The distinctive needs of youth in short-term detention are also addressed in the literature reviewed. In addition, this report outlines the five suggestions in the Correctional Education Guidance Package developed by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice. A separate section of this literature review is devoted to alternative schools, which are specialized education environments designed for students expelled or suspended for disruptive behavior or weapons possession, as well as those whose handicaps prevent them from doing well in a regular school environment. Youth involved in the juvenile justice system and living in the community may also attend alternative schools. A discussion of the literature on "outcome evidence" notes there is limited research on the effect of educational interventions for youth in secure residential facilities, as well for youth under court supervision who are not in secure facilities. There is research, however, on more general types of interventions for system-involved youth that have produced positive educational outcomes. This research is reviewed.