Incarcerated youths often denied access to educational opportunities, study finds

Each year, tens of thousands of incarcerated youths rely on state residential facilities to provide them with essential services during their time of commitment, including education. But according to a 2015 study by The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, most of these youths lack access to many of the same educational opportunities as their peers in the community — such as credit recovery programs, GED preparation, and career and technical education courses.
The 50-state analysis (“Locked Out: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth”) has a number of recommendations to address this imbalance, including holding juvenile facility schools and educators accountable for providing services that adhere to state curricular standards.
In 2012, the Indiana Department of Correction’s Division of Youth Services had that goal in mind when it implemented a new model for evaluating its teachers. The model, known as RISE, is the same one used in Indiana’s public schools.

“[It has] raised the bar when it comes to instruction and ongoing data analysis,” says Susan Lockwood, the division’s director of juvenile education. “[It] allows administrators to provide specific feedback to teachers, and this helps the teachers develop specific skills.”
Use of RISE, or an approved equivalent, is required by Indiana’s public schools under a 2011 state law. This mandate did not extend to juvenile facilities, but the Department of Correction chose to adopt it.
As part of the evaluation process, administrators conduct a minimum of five classroom observations over the course of the school year. Each teacher is then rated on 23 different competencies. Student academic progress is assessed through multiple measures, such as scores on statewide assessments and progress toward specific learning objectives.
For the Department of Correction’s Division of Youth Services, progress is measured by each student’s individualized education goals, which are determined at the start of a youth’s commitment to a state facility.
The hope among state officials is that a stronger teacher evaluation system will lead to better outcomes for young people in Indiana’s detention facilities.

 

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Stateline Midwest: February 20162.03 MB