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Rae

Rae SINCLAIR

Year of Award: 2011 Award State: South Australia Education > Specialised Education
Social Welfare > Indigenous
To evaluate literacy and numeracy programs offered to Indigenous and disadvantaged youths in juvenile detention centres - USA, Canada
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Academic outcomes achieved during incarceration have an important impact on the achievements of youth after their release and have been shown to reduce recidivism. Studies in the U.S.A. suggest that 37 percent of young offenders were less likely to re-offend if they learn to read during incarceration. Although evidence indicates that those juveniles at greatest risk of reoffending have concomitantly the lowest literacy levels; literacy instruction and improvement has not yet been fully recognised as a significant contributor to reducing recidivism. This project aims at identifying “Best Practice” for teaching literacy and numeracy remediations to students in detention. [...]

Major Lessons and Conclusions: 

Adolescents in juvenile detention facilities have the most complex educational, behavioural, and mental health needs of any youth in our society. They are nearly 7 times more likely to have a disability, with 80 percent having one or more psychological disorders and 75 percent having behavioural disorders. Few have age appropriate literacy and numeracy skills with many reading below grade 4 standard. Education is more effective if systems are in place to support student’s social and emotional needs and is delivered in an environment that systematically teaches positive behaviours. 

As language underpins every conscious thought and all communication, poor language skills limit an individual’s ability to think, understand and to communicate. Given the scope of defining best practice for students whose educational requirements range from K- 12, across two content areas; this summary provides broad outlines for recommended practice. However, it is clear that these students need intensive, explicit support delivered by skilled instructors over an extended period of time, with student achievement primarily determined by the amount of instruction (time) and the content of that instruction. This is expensive. A commitment to funding and resourcing is essential to the success of these interventions. 

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