California Is Failing to Educate Students in Juvenile Justice System: Report

California Is Failing to Educate Students in Juvenile Justice System: Report

A teenager sits in a class at a youth facility in Lakeside, Calif., on Jan. 27, 2005. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

12/6/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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The state is failing when it comes to educating the youth in its juvenile justice system, according to a new study from the Youth Law Center, a San Francisco-based nonprofit.
The report, titled “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” examined data from the 2018–19 to 2021–22 school year using information from the California Department of Education and from 10 county education offices that oversee court schools—which educate youth while they’re awaiting sentencing, committed to a juvenile facility, or on probation in a home placement.
The report found mixed results.
The good news: The number of students attending court schools dropped dramatically from nearly 20,000 in 2018–19 to 10,891 in the 2021–22 school year—a reflection of the overall drop of youth in the juvenile system, according to the report.
The bad news, however, the report found were high rates of chronic absenteeism, low high school graduation rates, and largely inaccurate or incomplete data.
In the 2018–2019 school year, for example, the average rate of chronic absenteeism for court schools was 12.9 percent, rising to 16.8 percent in 2021–22.
Meanwhile, graduation rates remained largely unchanged across the three-year period—from 30 percent in 2018–19 to 31.8 percent in 2021–22. The statewide graduation rate, for comparison, averaged around 85 percent.
However, researchers said in the report that its data could be skewed due to the “transient” nature of the youth justice system.
Many in the system don’t attend court schools for longer than one month, and data doesn’t distinguish between the needs and outcomes of students who attend for a few weeks compared to those who attend for years.
As such, researchers recommended education officials design a method for distinguishing between long- and short-term students.
“A failure to design better metrics would be a disastrous choice on the part of California stakeholders to keep these students out of sight and out of mind,” they wrote in the report.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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