Juvenile Law Center

Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Building Brighter Futures

Tools for Improving Academic and Career/Technical Education in the Juvenile Justice System

Youth typically enter juvenile justice placements with significant educational deficits. Many have already endured a myriad of barriers to educational success, including under-resourced schools, exclusionary school discipline policies, and overly-restrictive educational placements. Placement in a juvenile justice facility presents a turning point: without appropriate programming and coordination, too many youth fall further behind while in custody. Indeed, nationally, as many as two-thirds of youth drop out of school after release from juvenile facilities.


In Building Brighter Futures: Tools for Improving Academic and Career/Technical Education in the Juvenile Justice System, Juvenile Law Center examines one particular initiative that has shown great success in combating this problem—the Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training Alliance (PACTT). PACTT’s model suggests that, despite the inevitable stress and disruption of juvenile placement, thoughtful interventions can help youth to get back on track.
With funding through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Models for Change initiative, this publication highlights some of the principles and approaches PACTT has used, and identifies approaches that could be replicated and codified in policies in other jurisdictions. It is designed to help jurisdictions launch needed initiatives, build on existing initiatives most effectively, and codify effective approaches in state or local policy. The Toolkit also sets forth ideas for collecting data to measure the success of initiatives like PACTT.
You can download the Toolkit in its entirety. You may also choose to download parts of the Toolkit, as follows:
The Explanatory Introduction to the Toolkit
Tool I – a checklist of replicable program elements
Tool II – a checklist of policy recommendations
Tool III – a logic model for setting up data collection to evaluate initiatives
Tool IV – a set of data measures to track outcomes of initiative participants
Tool V – a digest of key relevant federal laws
Tool VI – desk manuals on PACTT for career and technical education specialists and for academic specialists
Tool VII – a sample agreement between PACTT and the facilities that agree to follow its model (“PACTT affiliates”)
Tool VIII – PACTT’s manual on fostering employability/soft skills
Tool IX – comprehensive federal administrative policy recommendations, most of which can be adapted to create state-level reform
Additional content you may find useful if implementing an initiative like PACTT:





Katherine Burdick, Jessica Feierman, Catherine Feeley, Autumn Dickman, and Robert G. Schwartz.
April 2015


Support Juvenile Law Center

One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before. Support