All children deserve a free, high-quality education, whether in public schools or in juvenile justice placement facilities. However, many children who are in juvenile facilities do not leave with the necessary skills to re-enter school on grade level, graduate, enter postsecondary education or obtain employment. In 2008, Stoneleigh Fellow Candace Putter founded the Pennsylvania Academic Career and Technical Training Alliance (PACTT), a cross-system initiative to address factors that prevent youth in residential placement facilities from succeeding in school and obtaining employment once they return home. In 2013, following five years of operation, PACTT was in need of an assessment in order to track youth outcomes and program implementation across facilities and to strengthen its efforts.
Through his Emerging Leader Fellowship, Roger Chu worked with Research for Action to study the extent to which juvenile justice facilities are providing quality educational services to youth in Pennsylvania. He examined the implementation of the Pennsylvania Academic Career and Technical Training Network by analyzing student-level data, conducting site visits, and interviewing facilities’ staff. He also sought the perspectives of youth returning from juvenile justice facilities to the School District of Philadelphia, and he examined trends in school attendance data.