Improving Outcomes for Adjudicated Youth through Special Education Behind the Fence

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Miller, Alexandra, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Miller, Alexandra, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

This dissertation is composed of three manuscripts, each of which addresses issues facing youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system. The manuscripts are ordered from the broadest topic to the most specific with each preceding study informing the next. The first manuscript was a qualitative examination of a special educator’s process for overcoming systemic issues that often plague the juvenile justice system and prevent adjudicated students with disabilities from receiving services. Among the issues faced were record transfer failures and communicative breakdowns within the facility and between the facility, schools, and families. Each of these issues had implications for transition, which is the focus of the second manuscript. The second manuscript is a systematic review of the literature on transition services for youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system. Although few studies were identified for the review, a foundation for evidence-supported practices was established. Among these practices included helping youth offenders earn a diploma prior to their release into the community. Based on this finding, the final study was an examination of a writing intervention and its efficacy on the GED writing subtest for adjudicated students with and without disabilities who were identified as high-risk for school drop-out. All four students demonstrated mastery of the strategy and made gains on the GED writing subtest. Implications for research and practice are described.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
juvenile justice, special education, youth offenders, transition
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