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Strengthening Education in Short-term Juvenile Detention Centers: Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Gregory J. Benner; Songtian Zeng; Annie Laurie Armstrong; Cathrin Anderson; Erin Carpenter
Date Published
December 2016
98 pages

This project's goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of educational curricula and instructional practices within the short-term juvenile detention centers (JDCs) of Washington State, so as to inform and improve educational policies and practices in these centers.


The high recidivism and low school re-engagement after release among youth who have been in a JDC indicate that greater investments are needed in JDC staffing, professional development, instruction, and transition planning. Five recommendations are offered. First, encourage JDCs to conduct annual assessments of their capacity, using the Quality Assessment Tool (QAT) and make evidence-based improvements. Second, establish site-specific, regional, and statewide "future ready" JDC education program implementation teams. These teams would jointly identify, implement, track, and improve the goals of their education program transformation plans. Third, promote professional development activities. Priority training subjects should include behavioral intervention, educating students with disabilities, instructional strategies, transition, literacy instruction, assessment, and classroom management. Fourth, implement a "future ready" approach to service delivery. This pertains to efforts that facilitate school re-engagement following release and guiding connections to positive community resources. Fifth, track recidivism, return to school, and labor market engagement rates of students annually and establish formal agreements to improve performance in each of these areas. The researchers advise that additional study is needed for evaluating the predictive validity of practices that emerged from this study. 34 tables and 17 references