Friday, June 28, 2013

Juvenile Offender Graduates Earn Diplomas, GEDs

Reading, math scores rival those in public schools

STOCKTON---Thirty-eight youth from the N.A. Chaderjian High School, located within the youth correctional facility of the same name, today received high school diplomas or GED’s, continuing a trend of increased graduation rates and strong reading and math scores for youth in the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). 

They join 51 youth from the Mary B. Perry High School, located inside the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo, who received diplomas and GEDs on June 14.

The graduations continue a trend of increasing academic achievement with data compiled for courts overseeing the education program showing math and reading scores similar to those of students in public school districts.

“These students show that youth can rebound from mistakes in their lives and take steps to build a more successful life. Education is a key part of that foundation,” said DJJ Director Michael Minor. “Over the last eight years, with guidance from court-appointed experts, we have strengthened our education program to ensure that when these youth return to the community they are more prepared to be constructive citizens.”

The DJJ operates high schools in each of its three correctional facilities that are accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools and with curriculum that meets all California Department of Education standards.  DJJ students attend the same full day of school as students in public high school.   In addition, students receive supplemental services, such as English Learner curriculum or individual special education plans. 

Data compiled for the court that oversees DJJ’s programs show a steady increase in the proportion of youth receiving diplomas or GED’s despite a significant decrease in the youthful offender population over the same amount of time. 

In the 2004/05 academic year, when a reform plan was developed in response to a lawsuit (Farrell) over substandard education, 250 youth earned diplomas or GED’s, out of a population of 3,133 (8%).  By comparison, in the 2011/12 school year, 205 youth out of 571 who were eligible to attend high school (36%) earned that level of academic achievement in a population that had dropped to approximately 800.

Youth housed in DJJ can be as old as 23 years of age and some of the remaining 249 may have finished their high school education in previous years. 
In addition, 131 youth were enrolled in college courses in the 2011/12 school year, the most recent year for which data has been verified, compared to 363 in 2004/05 when the DJJ population was more than three times larger.

That progress also is revealed in math and English scores for DJJ youth in the California High School Exit Exam.  Test scores show that DJJ youth passed the math and English portion of the exam at 32 percent and 24 percent, respectively.  By comparison, scores for students in the Fresno Unified School District were 19 percent in both subjects while students at Grant Union High School District near Sacramento passed at a rate of 30 and 33 percent, respectively.

Since the DJJ’s education reform plan was developed, approximately 2,500 youth have received high school diplomas or GED’s and another 2,063 have been enrolled in college classes.    

June 28, 2013
Contact: Bill Sessa
(916) 445-4950