Since its inception in 1998, the Juvenile Justice Educational Enhancement Program (JJEEP) has been committed to improving the quality of educational services provided to incarcerated youth throughout the State of Florida. As part of its mission, JJEEP has recently begun conducting case studies of residential programs with the ultimate purpose of identifying demonstration sites (Annual Report Chapter 7). The process for their selection includes combining multiple years of Quality Assurance (QA) performance information and teacher quality data to identify consistently high performing educational programs with little provider, administrative, and teacher turnover. Once identified, these programs are subjected to further research, using case study methods that identify the program processes that facilitate best practices in each program. The best practices identified in each program are based on an extensive literature review (Annual Report Chapter 6) on juvenile justice education practices in peer-reviewed journals and books. Practices that were empirically proven to be successful were then used in a scoring rubric to distinguish programs. After the case studies are conducted, high-performing programs, based on their identifiable and scientifically validated best practices, are asked to serve as demonstration sites. As demonstration sites, these high-performing programs will be able to share their practices with other lower-performing programs throughout the state. (For a detailed description of the case study methods and results, click the link to chapter seven of the JJEEP 2005 Annual Report).
The purpose of establishing these demonstration sites is to provide models of exemplary and replicable best practices in Florida’s juvenile justice education system. These sites will be able to answer two critical questions regarding the delivery of educational services to incarcerated youths: What policies, practices, and processes are most effective? How can these policies, practices, and processes be implemented and maintained? Specifically, demonstration sites are consistently high-performing programs that possess and utilize a variety of research-based inputs and activities in order to present an effective positive turning point, namely academic and/or career success—in the student’s delinquent life course.
Roles and Responsibilities of Demonstration Sites
Demonstration sites have several roles and responsibilities. These include: (1) maintaining high QA scores; (2) providing technical assistance to programs in need via prearranged visits, telephone calls, and e-mail correspondence; (3) allowing other programs and persons to visit for research or system improvement purposes; (4) presenting at conferences, namely the Juvenile Justice Education Institute and Southern Conference on Corrections; (5) agreeing to be featured on JJEEP’s Web-site and in JJEEP’s annual report; and (6) having program representatives serve as peer reviewers in JJEEP’s QA process.
Essentially, JJEEP is developing collaborative partnerships with the demonstration sites in order to increase practitioner input in the program monitoring and evaluating process and to network with other programs throughout the state to raise the overall quality of educational services provided to Florida’s incarcerated youths. Ultimately, these demonstration sites will inform JJEEP’s QA process by suggesting possible revisions to the QA standards and scoring procedures. Moreover, the demonstration sites will provide JJEEP with empirical evidence regarding the implementation and maintenance of best practices, as well as innovative approaches to establishing best practices.