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Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings, United States Department of Education, Arne Duncan and Eric H. Holder

In December of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) released five guiding principles for the provision of correctional education in juvenile justice facilities.

First, facilities are encouraged to create a safe and healthy climate which prioritizes education and the provision of behavioral and support services necessary to address the individual needs of all youth.

Second, states should establish procedures to ensure that juvenile justice facilities receive adequate state and local funds to allow them to effectively leverage available federal education dollars for the provision of meaningful educational services to all youth within the facility, including those with disabilities and limited English proficiency.

Third, facilities should recruit and employ qualified educational staff with the skills necessary to meet the unique needs of youth in juvenile justice facilities. Additionally, states should provide or facilitate access to professional development opportunities for educational staff so that they can create and sustain effective teaching and learning environments.

Fourth, the curriculum should be rigorous and aligned with state academic and career and technical education standards that utilize instructional methods, tools, materials and practices that enable college and career readiness. Instructional methods and materials should be tailored to each student’s age, grade placement, development and culture. Students in juvenile justice facilities should participate in the same curriculum as students in traditional schools. Educational programing in juvenile justice facilities should provide access to postsecondary programing, including college and career and technical education that prepares students for successful transitions to adulthood.

Finally, facilities should ensure the smooth re-entry of the youth into the community through the creation of individualized prerelease plans in partnership with the youth and his or her family that identify action steps and support services to ensure enrollment in a community school and reduce the likelihood of re-arrest or reoffending. Correctional educational programs should establish policies and procedures that promote school assignments that are best suited for the student’s educational success as well as the timely transfer of their accurate education and related records.