Read your way out examining literacy skills programs effects on incarcerated youth
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Paige Asmann Kimberly Patton Tad Twidwell Stephanie York Emporia State University LI 810XR: Research in Library and Information Science 4/27/2012. Read Your Way Out: Examining Literacy Skills Programs Effects on Incarcerated Youth. Overview & Background.

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Read your way out examining literacy skills programs effects on incarcerated youth

Paige AsmannKimberly PattonTad TwidwellStephanie YorkEmporia State UniversityLI 810XR: Research in Library and Information Science4/27/2012

Read Your Way Out: Examining Literacy Skills Programs Effects on Incarcerated Youth

Overview background
Overview & Background

  • Reading skill deficits not only put the individual at a disadvantage but society as a whole.

  • It is estimated that reading skill deficits are associated with $224 billion in annual welfare payments, crime enforcement, employment ineptitude, and lost tax revenues (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000).

  • Illiteracy is associated with higher likelihood of school suspension, academic failure, and limited employment opportunities (Katsiyannis, 1999).

Overview background1
Overview & Background

  • A disproportionate number of incarcerated youth demonstrate literacy problems.

  • In 1978, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (OJJDP) funded Project Read, (as cited in Brunner, 1993) a study of incarcerated juveniles’ literacy skills.

  • Of the 2,670 juvenile offenders examined, the average reading level of a ninth grader was the fourth grade and thirty-eight percent reading below that were deemed illiterate.

Overview background2
Overview & Background

  • Existing literature shows there is a correlation between juvenile offender’s literacy rates and recidivism.

  • A study by the Criminal Justice Policy Council showed that 37 percent of incarcerated youth were less likely to be re-incarcerated if they became literate (Susswein, 2000, as cited in Keith & McCray, 2002).

Research aim
Research Aim

  • To find the most effective method of instruction to teach incarcerated youth literacy skills in order to reduce the likelihood that they recidivate upon release.

Research questions
Research Questions

  • What percentage of incarcerated youth that partook in the literacy skills course enhanced their literacy skills?

  • What percentages of incarcerated youth that successfully completed the literacy skills course recidivated to criminal behavior?

  • What were the most effective methods of instruction in enhancing literacy skills?

Philosophical assumptions
Philosophical Assumptions

  • Quantitative research: can be defined as “deductiontist, and objectionist and incorporates a natural science model of the research process”

  • Deduction to test the theory: that if an incarcerated youth partakes in a literacy program, they will be less likely to recidivate to criminal behavior.


  • Purposive Sampling: a non-probability form of sampling that strategizes participants in a specific way as to the questions posed

  • The sample will consist of youth aged ten to seventeen who are incarcerated in the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility for at least the next fourteen weeks

Social research association s corrective reading program
Social Research Association’s Corrective Reading Program

  • The study will be conducted at Westside High School, USD #495 which is located within the facility.

  • Pre-placement test to determine the level of the participant’s decoding, comprehension, and fluency skills.

Corrective reading program cont
Corrective Reading Program (cont.)

  • Two Components:

    • The Decoding strand is appropriate for participants whose oral reading skills are choppy, reading skills are inaccurate, or who is not fluent and lacks comprehension.

    • The Comprehension strand aims to enhance vocabulary skills by providing background information and reasoning skills.

    • Participants will receive instruction in either or both of these components based on their Corrective Reading placement scores.

Corrective reading program cont1
Corrective Reading Program (cont.)

  • Each participant will be given at least one hour of instruction three times a week for twelve weeks starting by teachers certified in special education.

  • At the end of the twelfth week, participants will be given a post-placement test to determine if their reading accuracy improved, remained the same, or declined.

  • Upon their release from the juvenile correctional facility, each participant will be tracked in the community to determine the number of participants who re-offend.

Obtrusive data collection
Obtrusive Data Collection

  • Participants will be notified of the research study prior to taking the pre-placement test.

  • Data will be collected through the pre-test, post-test, and self-completed questionnaire.

  • Researchers do not need to be present to observe the participants throughout the study

Sample size
Sample Size

  • Small sample size

    • Our study is limited to the maximum number of youth that the LarnedJuvenile Correctional Facility can accommodate

      • Advantages

        • practicality in terms of cost and convenience of setting up, administrating, and following up.

        • more conducive to the juvenile’s learning in the class room.

      • Disadvantages

        • less likely that it is an accurate reflection of the general population of incarcerated youth lowering the potential validity and reliability of the results.

Other factors
Other Factors

  • An increase in literacy skills does not directly cause a reduction in recidivism.

  • There are several factors that may be associated with a youth’s successful or unsuccessful re-entry into society.

    • Family

    • Friends

    • community programs

    • Education

    • Employment

    • mental disabilities

    • learning disabilities

    • Attitude

    • Maturity

    • Probation/parole officer.

Self c ompletion questionnaire
Self-Completion questionnaire

  • Completed by each juvenile offender whom re-enters the juvenile justice system.

  • Addressing the possible factors that contributed to their recidivism

Follow up self questionnaire
Follow-up Self-Questionnaire

  • Research limited to those who re-offend and re-encounter the justice system, without taking into account those who return to criminal behavior but do not re-encounter the legal system.

  • For the non-offending juveniles, the researchers will send a follow-up self-questionnaire to the participants within the two years after their completion of the program.

Ethical considerations
Ethical Considerations

  • Approval of the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility’s Administration

  • Consent of the juvenile’s parents

Ethical considerations1
Ethical Considerations

  • Anonymity

    • juveniles will not be identifiable later due to the surveying or testing that was done.

    • Otherwise potential harmful effects to the juvenile

      • Scrutinized by public as criminals

Ethical considerations2
Ethical Considerations

  • Considerations:

    • Juvenile’s physical location in relation to the researchers

    • the focus region of the project

    • the others being followed

Ethical considerations3
Ethical Considerations

  • Remain objective

    • Ensure results are not skewed but an honest representation of the successes or challenges of the reading programs currently being used.


  • This study will contribute to the field of Library Science and its practice by defining which literacy programs should be utilized in the education of troubled youth in America, further cementing the idea that community literacy contributes to the betterment of society as a whole.

Concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks

  • Illiteracy may be considered a disability and will result in less opportunity for training and employment for an individual.

  • When an individual lacks the skills necessary to obtain employment, they are more likely to result to criminal behavior.

  • Reducing the likelihood of criminal behavior will not only benefit the individual but society as a whole.

Concluding remarks1
Concluding Remarks

  • When one partakes in criminal behavior as a youth it is likely that their criminal propensity will continue into adulthood, leading to more serious crimes.

  • Juvenile offenders are still in the learning development period and may for the first time have the opportunity to turn their lives around.

  • While low literacy skills is not the direct cause of juvenile offenders’ behavior, there is literature that supports the idea that through literacy skills programs juveniles may obtain the skills and confidence to prosper in society and thus not return to a life of crime.