Mathematic Achievement of Youth in Juvenile Facilities
Mason, Carolyn Quinlan
Youth in correctional facilities often exhibit low mathematical achievement, which may threaten their future independence. In order to build math literacy among youth in correctional facilities, facility instructors need access to timely and informative mathematical assessment (Grigorenko et al., 2013; Hart et al, 2012). Researchers also need data on the math achievement of youth in correctional facilities in order to support math intervention research. To date, no peer-reviewed research has reported on the specific math achievement deficits of youth in juvenile corrections in a way that could be used to inform instruction. The purpose of this descriptive study was to measure and report the comprehensive math achievement of youth in short- and long-term juvenile justice facilities overall and by demographic characteristics. For all youth participants, the assessment battery included two standardized measures of math achievement, one broad and one specific to skills that support algebra, and an assessment of math achievement related to algebra readiness. Math achievement was also measured by student acquisition of Algebra I credit. Study findings indicated that in long- and short-term facilities, youth demonstrated standardized math achievement deficits, and youth with disabilities and African American youth scored lower on individual measures of standardized achievement than their nondisabled, White peers. In regression analyses controlling for race, it was found that race did not significantly contribute to the variance student math scores, although special education status did, as did Algebra I completion. Overall, youth demonstrated a high rate of Algebra I completion, although this outcome varied according to special education status and setting type. Implications for policymakers, research, and practice are discussed.