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Institute of Education Sciences

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IES Grant

Title: Foundation for Alliance for Education
Center: NCER Year: 2014
Principal Investigator: Grigorenko, Elena L. Awardee: Yale University
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 1 year (7/1/2014–6/30/2015) Award Amount: $399,963
Award Number: R305H140050

Name of Partners: Yale University, Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), Connecticut Judicial Branch Court Supported Youth Services Division (CSSD), Yale University Child Study Center (YCSC)

Education Issue: It is estimated that as many as 86% of juvenile detainees perform below grade level, and 40-50% have special educational needs. This population is characterized by high levels of misconduct, delinquency, recidivism, and criminal and mental health issues in adulthood. Crime-related costs for this high-risk population would be reduced by almost $5 billion annually in the U.S. with a 5% increase in male high school graduation rates. However, minimal research exists on the nature and extent of the educational needs of court-involved youth, or on the educational programs and services that are suitable and effective for this population.

Partnership significance and goal: In the state of Connecticut (CT), education for youth in juvenile detention is not mandated, and several recent lawsuits have highlighted the challenges of coordinating state agencies to provide educational services to juvenile detainees. Improved access and delivery of appropriate educational services to this population is hypothesized to result in reduced recidivism, increased achievement, increased rates of graduation, and reduced rates of suspensions and dropout. This project will coordinate state education and justice agencies in CT and, using a network of related organizations and service providers, develop a model for innovative policies and systemic practices to provide free, adequate, and appropriate education that meets the needs of youth in juvenile detention. Ultimately, the project aims to decrease recidivism, promote student achievement, increase high school graduation rates, and improve life outcomes. In the near-term, the primary goals of this project are to: (1) collect and share data on court-involved youth, (2) develop a blueprint for the cross-agency partnership, and (3) use research findings to inform policy and practice regarding the delivery of appropriate educational services for juveniles in detention. The model blueprint and the research findings will be made available through dissemination to other states and to relevant practitioner and research communities.

Partners and Partnership Activities: The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), the Connecticut Judicial Branch Court Supported Youth Services Division (CSSD), and Yale University’s Child Study Center (YCSC) will form the foundation for an alliance (AllEd) of agencies and organizations in CT to examine the educational experiences of court-involved youth and identify areas for improvement in educational services. The partnership will capture and process data to fill multiple gaps in the existing literature on the life trajectories of juvenile detainees by two means: (1) the partnership will identify relevant stakeholders and collect qualitative data on the educational experiences of court-involved youth in CT and (2) the partnership will merge relevant datasets from CSDE and CSSD to analyze longitudinal patterns of behavior, experiences, and outcomes of youth in the education and justice systems. The partnership will also produce a blueprint for a model for collaboration in other states, and the results of the studies will be translated directly into policy and legislative changes in CT.

Structured Abstract

Setting: An initial partnership will be formed among two state agencies (the Departments of Education and Justice) and one research university (Yale) in the state of Connecticut. This partnership will serve as the foundation for building an alliance (AllEd) of agencies and organizations providing educational services to court-involved youth in Connecticut.

Population/Sample: The focus of the project is the educational experiences and needs of the approximately 1,500 boys and girls aged 12-17 in juvenile detention in Connecticut per year (77% male and 73% minority). Data on approximately 10,000 other court-involved youth (youth on probation and community-referred youth) in CT per year and on demographically matched samples in CT will also be analyzed with a larger merged set of data collected from both agencies over the last ten years. In addition, student and staff focus group participants will be recruited from both state and alternative detention centers.

Initial Analysis: A descriptive case study approach will be used to collect and analyze a set of qualitative data on the educational services currently provided to and needed by court-involved youth. Researchers will gather data via focus groups with the youth as well as via interviews with educators working in detention centers and potential employers of these youth. Results will be shared with stakeholders.

In order to better leverage quantitative data currently collected by the CT education and juvenile justice systems, a merged dataset will be created using linked identifiers. The research team will analyze cases with at least three time points in order to explore “developmental cascades” and reciprocal relationships between variables over time in a series of nested path models aimed at understanding pathways between educational and criminal variables. Outcomes of interest include achievement, attendance, suspension, expulsion, dropout, and graduation rates; employment rates; and recidivism. These data will be shared between the CT Department of Education and the CT Judicial Branch Court Supported Youth Services Division using a platform to be developed by the Yale University Child Study Center.