Texas Juvenile Justice Department Project


There is a lack of research on ways to intervene with incarcerated youth who exhibit low levels of literacy and on effective strategies to improve the academic and behavioral outcomes of these students. For many of these youths, incarceration may be the last opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to become productive members of society. Therefore, correctional facilities must deliver a quality educational program to meet the diverse academic needs of incarcerated youths.

Research has shown a strong link between improved levels of literacy and reduced risk for delinquency, incarceration, and recidivism (Leone, 2006; Vacca, 2007). These findings support the argument that the field of education should focus on improving literacy outcomes for incarcerated youths by using relevant interventions that increase academic success and motivation.

This project responds to a request for support of recently passed legislation (SB 1362, Sec. 30.106) that calls for a comprehensive plan to improve student reading skills and behavior in Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) facilities.


​Research is ongoing.

Project Design


This project designs an intensive, individualized, scientifically based reading intervention and trains TJJD personnel to implement the intervention with fidelity to meet the needs of a diverse set of juvenile offenders. The project also evaluates the effectiveness of this intervention. The reading intervention is structured to reflect the comorbidity of students’ academic (specifically, literacy), behavioral, social, and emotional needs. Specifically, the project incorporates research-based strategies for improving literacy outcomes for adolescent struggling readers into the context of juvenile correctional facilities. The intervention is designed to maintain a quick pace, provide individualization of treatment, and increase time on task and corrective feedback for students. Using a great deal of expository text, students learn, practice, and apply research-based reading strategies to improve literacy outcomes. The intervention also incorporates practice in essential life skills, such as filling out forms and applications, to help students succeed outside of correctional facilities. Teachers modify their instruction based on frequent progress monitoring.


All students in need of reading support who are admitted to a TJJD facility, reading teachers, and other essential personnel