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Juvenile correctional education standards approved.

On Oct. 31, 2004, the Standards Commission of the Correctional Education Association (CEA) approved a separate set of standards for accrediting correctional education programs in juvenile facilities. Correctional education programs, at all levels, share many similarities but there are some unique aspects of correctional education at the juvenile level. For example, the transfer of a student's education record, both arrival to and discharge from an institution, is addressed and required to be completed in 72 hours to ensure smooth educational transitions. Other concerns for correctional institutions serving school-age residents include reviews of the institution's implementation of special education, Title I and the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as mandatory state testing. The performance standards for juvenile correctional education programs make a better "fit" for those who serve a majority of youths in their institutions.

Educational programming in juvenile correctional facilities closely reflects the education provided in public schools. Education is mandatory for all juvenile offenders and educational programs in juvenile correctional facilities are required to follow the same laws and practices as their public school counterparts. The amount of time a student spends in a classroom each day must meet at least the minimum required by the state. All students previously identified as being eligible for special education must receive comparable services while in a juvenile correctional facility. Remediation in either reading or math is to be provided. If a student must be in a restricted status either for behavior or medical issues, he or she must still continue to receive educational programming. In addition, teachers of juvenile delinquents are required to maintain current certification in the subject that they teach.

Upon arrival at a juvenile residential treatment facility, juvenile offenders must be enrolled as quickly as possible into an education program that is similar to the program they participated in at their home school. An education program at a juvenile facility approximates high school with offerings of algebra, biology, physical science, language arts, English, literature, art, music, physical education and a variety of vocational offerings. To accurately provide for the needs of the students, their educational files are requested from their home schools. An education file will show what courses the student has completed, still needs to complete, his or her level of achievement, attendance records and whether the student is eligible to receive special education services.

In most cases, the goal of juvenile correctional education is to have the offender earn a high school diploma. While going to school in a juvenile correctional facility, it is important that the juvenile's school attendance and achievements be recognized by his or her home school toward that goal. Most juvenile correctional education programs grant high school credits, which are accepted by the home school as long as the programs follow the school district's guidelines for length of time in classes. GED programs do exist at the juvenile level for older youths who probably would not return to school when discharged.

CEA began accrediting correctional education programs in both adult and juvenile institutions in 1988. Presently, there are three sets of performance standards for educational programs: adult, jails and juveniles. During the 16 years that the CEA performance standards have been in effect, suggestions for updates and improvements have been made by auditors, practitioners and the standards commissioners. The most recent improvement in accreditation was the creation of separate performance standards for juvenile correctional education programs. CEA standards and the accreditation process are a "dynamic process" and will continue to be revised periodically to maintain relevance and to reflect modern practices.

Since 1999, the American Correctional Association Commission on Accreditation has recognized CEA standards. If CEA has already accredited an institutional education program, ACA accepts CEA's audit findings as part of its audit. The CEA audit process is similar to the one used by ACA, and CEA provides training and technical assistance as part of the preparation for the actual audit. CEA has standards for prison, jail or juvenile facilities, and correctional institutions can contact CEA for a copy of these standards.

Having an educational program accredited is beneficial in many ways. An accreditation is a visible accomplishment that can be used to support requests for additional expenditures. Faculty and staff who actively participate in the pre-audit process report greater clarity of their roles and a better understanding of their facility's administrative processes. There have also been reports of higher morale levels among staff because the audit process provides them with greater understanding of their goals. Higher morale can translate directly into lower staff turnover rates and increased educational benefits to incarcerated students. Participating in an audit means a lot of hard work, but can translate into both tangible and intangible rewards.

For more information about having an educational program in an adult or juvenile facility accredited, please visit CEA's Web site at www.CEANational.org or call 1-800-783-1232.

Joe-Anne Corwin is a standards commissioner for the Correctional Education Association.
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Title Annotation:Juvenile Justice News
Author:Corwin, Joe-Anne
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Words:820
Previous Article:Trussbilt.
Next Article:Is suicide more common inside or outside of juvenile facilities?
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