Transition to and from Facilities:
Records Transfer and Maintenance
By Angeline Spain and Regina Waugh
This is the first module of NDTAC's Self-Study Toolkit. The Self-Study Toolkit is designed to help facilities measure how they are doing and determine what they can do to improve. All modules in the toolkit contain background information on the issue, a printable data collection table, and a list of additional resources. Links to modules on other topics, as well as links to other NDTAC toolkits, can be foundon NDTAC's Toolkits Web page.
This module is divided into three parts:
Part I. Introduction
Part II. Data Collection
Part III. Resources
Part I discusses why effective records transfer is important and offers background information on how records transfer can affect a youth's transition back into the community. Part II is designed to help measure how your facility is doing in terms of transferring student records and offers suggestions on how to improve. Part III provides additional resources on information sharing and National, State, and county data systems.
A recent study of youth leaving Oregon’s State and county facilities indicated that recidivism rates for youth engaged in school and the community 6 months following release from a juvenile justice facility are dramatically lower than for youth who do not have a successful transition back to the community . Overall, research on the education of youth in confinement suggests that “effective transitional programs increase the likelihood of reenrollment in school, graduation from high school, and successful employment .”
The influence of transition planning on positive youth outcomes has been emphasized at the Federal level with a change to Title I, Part D in 2001. Part D legislation now mandates that no less than 15 percent, and no more than 30 percent, of Title I, Part D funds be reserved for transition purposes. Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) indicators, which are used to evaluate the performance of all Federal programs, include transition back to the community schools as one of four performance measures on which data are to be reported annually—percent of N or D students with transition plans to return to local school programs. The reduced recidivism associated with return to school is captured in the academic emphasis of many restorative and aftercare programs, which require that participants return to school or actively study for the General Equivalency Degree (GED) .
Transition in Your State
In several States, transition planning is the responsibility of a transition coordinator who works at the facility and serves as a liaison to the school districts as well as the community at large. Even if such a person does not exist in your State, it is important that successful transitions to and from the facility are the focus of your institutional programming from the moment a student arrives.
The information and activities included in this toolkit will help you think about the role that comprehensive student records play in your facility and how you might use them to improve transition services for your students. Working with this toolkit should help you to answer the following questions:
- Why does the efficient maintenance and transfer of student records matter?
- How do I know if my facility provides sufficient transition planning, including the prompt transfer of student records?
- How long does it take my facility to obtain student records from their previous academic placement?
- How long does (and should) it take for student records to reach their community schools from my facility?
- What role does (and should) transition play in the overall programming of my facility?
In order to improve, you need to know where you are now. Complete the tables in the module to determine how your facility is doing in terms of successfully transferring student records. Completing these tables is, of course, completely voluntary. However, if you gather this information and return it to NDTAC, we will be happy to report comparison data back to you (provided we receive other responses). Please e-mail information to NDTAC@air.org.
Does your State collect this information in a different way? Please let us know about data collection processes in your State. Please e-mail NDTAC@air.org.
Getting student records into the facility
Effective records transfer and planning are essential to getting incarcerated juveniles off to the best possible start in their new placement. Without complete information on where a student has been, it is much more difficult to accurately determine where he or she needs to go. Communication between the schools, courts, and agencies working with an incarcerated juvenile is essential to ensuring that transitions between schools and/or facilities is accomplished as quickly as possible, without:
- Duplication of services
- Unnecessary referrals
- Lack of delivery of necessary services
Efficient intake and records transfer not only ensure that all of the essential information is available to those making placement decisions, but also that transitions occur with minimal disruption to service delivery.
Maintaining student records
As many educators within the juvenile justice system are well aware, the time that youth spend incarcerated is, for many, a rare opportunity to improve academically. For most, school attendance in these restricted environments is at an all-time high, classes are smaller, and educational programming is more tailored to meet individual learning needs. Students often improve several grade levels in math and reading achievement in a matter of months and feel successful for the first time in their academic careers.
Academic assessment is an integral part of any student’s educational experience. Consistently updating the academic achievement levels of students in juvenile justice facilities is especially important. As students leave facilities with little or no notice, it is vital that their educational records are updated frequently so that the documentation they bring to their next placement is an accurate reflection of the progress they have made.
Transferring student records out of the facility
Historically, data collection and records transfer between facilities and public schools have been slow and ineffective, resulting in students with an incomplete educational history. Because of missing records, students lack the necessary credits, assessments, transcripts, and report cards to effectively transfer back to community schools.
The hard work done by students to improve academically and done by teachers to prepare them for public school is negated when students arrive without the proper documentation. At the very least, students waste valuable school days as they sit through a battery of placement tests, spend time in the wrong classes, or are required to repeat classes or grades. In the worst case scenario, students become so frustrated with the process of trying to reenroll in school that they drop out altogether, removing the strongest defense they have against recidivating.
Did you know?
Valuable information regarding FERPA and the sharing of student records
In many cases, lack of effective records transfer and information sharing in the case of juveniles is the result of constraints (or perceived constraints) on the agencies involved due to Federal and State legislation. The prime piece of Federal legislation regarding the sharing of educational information is the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) that was enacted in order to prevent the unnecessary disclosure of students’ educational records.
In fact, with parental consent, educators are allowed to disclose information from a juvenile’s educational records at any time. In addition, the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 included a State law juvenile justice system exception to FERPA, which allows educators to disclose information from a student’s record provided that:
- Such a disclosure is authorized by State law;
- The disclosure is to a State or local juvenile justice agency;
- The disclosure is necessary to provide pre-adjudication services to the juvenile; and
- State or local officials provide written assurances that the information will not be shared outside of the State or local juvenile justice agency.
While no State can have confidentiality laws more lenient than FERPA, some States do have laws that extend FERPA. Keep in mind these extensions must be addressed when establishing record transfer policies. Some address this through a memorandum of understanding/agreement or legislation allowing the sharing of information between entities that have a legal interest in this population of young people.
Next: II. Data Collection
1Toddis, B., Bullis, M., Waintup, M., Schultz, R., & D'Ambrosio, R. (2001). Overcoming the odds: Qualitative examination of resilience among formerly incarcerated adolescents. Council on Exceptional Children, 68, 1, 119-139.
2Arnette, J. L., & Stephens, R. D. (2000). From the courthouse to the schoolhouse: Making successful transitions. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington , DC : Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
3Altschuler, D., & Armstrong, T. (2004) Intensive aftercare reference guide. Sacramento , CA : Juvenile Reintegration and Aftercare Center . Accessed on January 18, 2005, from http://www.csus.edu/ssis/cdcps/IntensiveAftercareReferenceGuide.pdf
Published January/February 2005