Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $388,478)
There is a gap between recommendations and practice regarding evidence-based educational
programs for juvenile justice involved youth. This is important to address because education is an essential component in rehabilitation and in building skills necessary for adulthood and employment.
This population has high incidence of mental health concerns, emotional and behavioral disorders, special education, and low academic achievement. There is sparse high quality research related to academic interventions with this population, which is surprising with the consistent finding of low
education leading to poor outcomes. There are two important research questions on this topic. First, will providing a strong evidence-based reading intervention be effective in improving academic and behavioral outcomes for juvenile offenders? Second, what is the theoretical link between low achievement and poor behavioral outcomes with this population? The current project would address both of these questions.
The study will occur via partnership between university researchers and a community agency that serves juveniles in residential treatment who were placed by a corrections agency. All youth who have below grade level reading abilities and adequate intellectual skills will be invited to participate. Up to
400 youth will be screened; 200-225 expected to participate. Youth at agency are (average): 14 years, 8th grade placement, and 4th grade reading level; 60%male, 40%female, <1%transgender; 60% Caucasian, 40% African American as reflection of region. This study will address whether an evidence-based reading intervention can lead to improvement in reading achievement, behavioral outcomes, and academic self-confidence, which would relate to lower recidivism at follow up.
This is a randomized control trial design, using intervention or education as usual. Intervention will occur in small group format the entire residential stay (4.5 months). Pre-, post-, 6-month and 12-month
follow up data will be gathered. Repeated measures analysis of group differences will include covariates of time spent in a reading program (education as usual includes reading at school) and level 1 of behavioral concerns/crime. Measures of academic skills, intellectual ability, behaviors, academic
frustration/confidence, emotional symptoms and delinquency will be included. Data from youth, caregivers, schools and court/juvenile justice systems will be gathered. Cost analysis and cost avoidance analyses will be run. PI and Co-PI included four consultants to support general project
integrity. Outcomes include dissemination of findings to local and national audiences, including pre-post outcomes, follow-up, and details of the successful partnership process. Archived data will be the complete set of de-identified variables in SPSS.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.