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Slide 1 Literacy and System-Involved Youth: Strategies for improving outcomes June 23rd, 2008 Evan Elkin - Director of the Adolescent Reentry Initiative.

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Presentation on theme: "Slide 1 Literacy and System-Involved Youth: Strategies for improving outcomes June 23rd, 2008 Evan Elkin - Director of the Adolescent Reentry Initiative."— Presentation transcript:

1 Slide 1 Literacy and System-Involved Youth: Strategies for improving outcomes June 23rd, 2008 Evan Elkin - Director of the Adolescent Reentry Initiative & Adolescent Portable Therapy, Vera Institute of Justice

2 Slide 2 May 1, 2015 Goals of Presentation Scope of the problem: Overview of relevant national and local research findings on literacy and incarcerated youth Overview of promising practices and blueprint recommendations in the literacy education field for incarcerated youth Snapshot of recent literacy programming developments here in New York City Describe a new literacy initiative and pilot program developed by the Vera Institute of Justice in partnership with NYC Council, DOC and the Queens Public Library Workshop exercise: generating new recommendations for the field

3 Slide 3 May 1, 2015 Criminal Justice System-involved Youth: Key Research Findings Youth in correctional facilities on average read at the 4 th grade level (Brunner 1993) 80% of incarcerated youth read at one or more grade levels below their same age peers (Malmgren & Leone, 2000) More than 50% of youth on Rikers Island read below the 6 th grade level (Internal statistics, Island Academy) Matching national figures, roughly 35% of Rikers youth carry a special education classfication (Internal statistics, Island Academy)

4 Slide 4 May 1, 2015 Key Research Findings Cont’d Less than 1/3 of youth returning home from NYC jails enroll in school (Fruedendberg, 2000) Youth with significant academic delays are twice as likely to recidivate or violate parole (Archwamety & Katsiyannis, 2000) High school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely than graduates to be arrested (US DOE, 1994) Incarcerated youth were 37% less likely to return to prison if they learned to read at re-entry (Criminal Justice Policy Council, 1998)

5 Slide 5 May 1, 2015 The Problem Low Literacy is correlated with: Disengagement from formal education Unemployment and lower wages Arrest, incarceration & recidivism Programming options (GED prep, vocational training etc) for low readers (Below 6 th grade) are profoundly limited Lack of innovative literacy teaching strategies tailored to the needs system-involved youth and young adults

6 Slide 6 May 1, 2015 Vera’s Involvement with Literacy: Developing a set of program recommendations ARI program faced the crisis of excluding half of eligible youth because of literacy levels and lack of community programs Vera conducted a detailed review of the literature and existing promising programs Examined evidence-supported and promising practices through a re-entry lens Developed a set of a recommendations Assembled NYC stakeholders to reach consensus on a blueprint Vera developed and launched a literacy intervention pilot

7 Slide 7 May 1, 2015 Recent Developments in NYC Deputy Mayor Gibbs’ office and CEO launched a literacy intiative this year Based on Vera blueprint Drawing on NYC strengths: library systems, literacy providers contracted through DYCD Seeks to stimulate innovation and curriculum development Multi-site implementation of the CEPS model in NYC Promising early results Will play a coordinating/guiding role with the CEO initiative Vera’s Adolescent Reentry Initiative (ARI) launched a pilot of a literacy model for youth returning from adult jail Plans to continue to refine and test curriculum and programming approach Our goal is to take the program to scale and expand to other populations

8 Slide 8 May 1, 2015 Promising Programs NYC: Community Education Pathways to Success (CEPS) model Integrates literacy learning with wraparound youth services in a community based setting Developed by the Youth Development Institute (ydiinstitute.org) Uses Ramp Up curriculum Oakland CA: Project Choice Integrates literacy learning with multi-target prison reentry services (pre and post-release phases 34% improvements in recidivism Designed and tested their own curriculum Yo! Baltimore “Community center” approach with multiple services including job readiness and placement, a recording studio and a health club Serves criminal justice, child welfare involved youth as well as school disconnected youth Modest improvements in recidivism and strong employment outcomes Literacy element consists of online and tutoring for GED prep

9 Slide 9 May 1, 2015 Promising Curricula RAMP Up Used by CEPS programs Strong outcomes for youth reading at 6th grade and above Integrates vocational material Read 180 Used by Job Corps Software driven and bilingual Good track record with adults Not tested with a system involved youth population REWARDS Success with 2.5 to 4.0 readers But its use has been with 4th and 5th graders, not older adolescents, young adults or system-involved populations

10 Slide 10 May 1, 2015 Integrating Re-entry Needs of the System- Involved Youth: Lessons from ARI History of academic failure leads to very low frustration tolerance and sense of hopelessness about entering an educational program The “re-entry window” - where motivation to make changes is high – can close very quickly (nationally - 25% of youth drop out of programs at 30 days post reentry) A traditional classroom setting can be daunting for youth who have been disengaged from school Rigid rules and excessive structure may be difficult from some youth post-incarceration Program attendance = lost wages: The need to earn money can make regular attendance in a program challenging for some youth Class/semester schedules don’t line up with release dates

11 Slide 11 May 1, 2015 Youth Re-entry Needs Cont’d: Rates of substance use, mental health difficulties and family problems among detained and incarcerated youth are very high Stigma of criminal justice history makes return to traditional education settings daunting (and often impossible without advocacy) Many community programs have little experience and high anxiety about working with incarcerated youth Ages 16-18 can cover a broad development spectrum Competing with the streets/gangs

12 Slide 12 May 1, 2015 Primary Blueprint Recommendations: Program Structure Comprehensive, holistic and strength-based assessment Begin engagement and services pre-release Embed programming in a youth-focused, multi-target support environment Resistance is the norm: build in assertive and flexible recruitment and retention strategies and expect disruption and disengagement Leverage supportive power of the classroom group itself Peer led and directed process for engagement and retention Stipends Individualized attention (eg., CEPS “primary person approach”) Pragmatic, fun, flexible atmosphere Bridge to next steps

13 Slide 13 May 1, 2015 Primary Blueprint Recommendations: Curriculum Anticipatory strategies: students know what they will learn before they learn it Classroom strategies accommodate multiple learning levels and paces Student centered: encourage multiple learning strategies to achieve learning goals Culturally relevant and student-driven curriculum content Authentic/pragmatic texts Reconcile literacy with living: Don’t sidestep issues of criminal justice system involvement, race and priviledge etc. as it pertains to literacy Arts and media integration - recognize and build on students literacy with other forms of “text”: print, visual, oral, musical, electronic

14 Slide 14 May 1, 2015 Vera’s Literacy Pilot: Goals Develop a new literacy teaching curriculum responsive to the “blueprint” Embed the literacy learning experience in the re-entry wraparound services provided by ARI Implement the program in an accessible community context Partner with an organization (QBL) with a strong teaching infrastructure and shared mission to address adult and young adult literacy Evaluate implementation process and refine model and curriculum

15 Slide 15 May 1, 2015 Key Components of Vera Literacy Model Integrating literacy programming with multi-target re-entry intervention: SA, MH, Family, life skills, housing, work readiness Ongoing relationship with a case manager Integration of vocational, career and higher education goals with literacy programming and with the curriculum itself Blending of “authentic texts” with traditional literature Arts and media integration - recognize and build on students literacy with other forms: print, visual, oral, musical, electronic Structured rolling admission Stipends Job development services and linkages with further training and education post literacy program

16 Slide 16 May 1, 2015 Evaluation, Outcomes, Next steps Tracking youth progress Intermittent formal testing Testing and refining the curriculum Prioritizing youth feedback on what’s working Planned series of curriculum revisions Development of a teacher training manual for the curriculum Process and implementation evaluation Goal for a more comprehensive evaluation post pilot Begin teaching pre-release? Bring program to scale and target other youth populations

17 Slide 17 May 1, 2015 Breakout Group Exercise


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