Title

Lost in Transition: An Interdisciplinary, Statewide, Mixed Methods Description of Institutionalized Injustice to Youth at Risk

Start Time

15-10-2009 2:00 PM

End Time

15-10-2009 3:30 PM

Abstract

Youth at greatest risk of academic failure and unsuccessful transition to a productive adulthood are shunted into state alternative education systems that, although touted to provide individualized approaches to instruction, are usually under-resourced settings that generally do not plan for transition to adulthood. The purpose of this interdisciplinary, mixed methods study was to describe statewide movement patterns and key elements of the transitions of adolescents enrolled in the 105 education programs operated by Kentucky’s juvenile justice, mental health, and social service agencies. Statistical description, grounded theory, and collaborative team analysis supported the depth of findings resulting from examination of data from system-wide survey, document reviews, and student and program administrator interviews. Results of the study include a statistical overview of patterns of movement of transitioning youth between typical and nontraditional schools. Descriptive themes include: abrupt entry, lack of student records, student characterizations, problems of interdisciplinary and interagency collaboration, importance of caring adult relationships, school cultures, transition programming, and goals for student futures. Key discoveries of the study were that transition was quite differently defined in nontraditional schools; that the crux of transition lies between the home school and the nontraditional school; that the system of inter-setting transitions is highly fluid, uncoordinated, and chaotic; and that there is a critical need for continua of transition programming at state, program, and individual levels. Interdisciplinary collaboration with state agency personnel to describe through research the occupational patterns of youth in transition has proven to be a useful first step toward addressing systemic injustice to a disempowered group that the state is mandated to serve. State agencies have proved appreciative of the recommendations of the study. Further research to make positive changes to the system of youth transitions in Kentucky are now in progress, with state funding support.

References

Pierce, D., Powell, N., Marshall, A., Nolan, R., & Fehringer, E. (2009). Kentucky youth at risk transitions: A report to the Commonwealth. Richmond: Eastern Kentucky University.

Swarts, L. (2004). Alternative education accountability: Kentucky's approach. Impact, 16, 20-21. Access Article

Weiner, C. (2007). Making teams work in conducting grounded theory. In A. Bryant and K. Charmaz (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Grounded Theory (pp. 293- 310). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.

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Oct 15th, 2:00 PM Oct 15th, 3:30 PM

Lost in Transition: An Interdisciplinary, Statewide, Mixed Methods Description of Institutionalized Injustice to Youth at Risk

Youth at greatest risk of academic failure and unsuccessful transition to a productive adulthood are shunted into state alternative education systems that, although touted to provide individualized approaches to instruction, are usually under-resourced settings that generally do not plan for transition to adulthood. The purpose of this interdisciplinary, mixed methods study was to describe statewide movement patterns and key elements of the transitions of adolescents enrolled in the 105 education programs operated by Kentucky’s juvenile justice, mental health, and social service agencies. Statistical description, grounded theory, and collaborative team analysis supported the depth of findings resulting from examination of data from system-wide survey, document reviews, and student and program administrator interviews. Results of the study include a statistical overview of patterns of movement of transitioning youth between typical and nontraditional schools. Descriptive themes include: abrupt entry, lack of student records, student characterizations, problems of interdisciplinary and interagency collaboration, importance of caring adult relationships, school cultures, transition programming, and goals for student futures. Key discoveries of the study were that transition was quite differently defined in nontraditional schools; that the crux of transition lies between the home school and the nontraditional school; that the system of inter-setting transitions is highly fluid, uncoordinated, and chaotic; and that there is a critical need for continua of transition programming at state, program, and individual levels. Interdisciplinary collaboration with state agency personnel to describe through research the occupational patterns of youth in transition has proven to be a useful first step toward addressing systemic injustice to a disempowered group that the state is mandated to serve. State agencies have proved appreciative of the recommendations of the study. Further research to make positive changes to the system of youth transitions in Kentucky are now in progress, with state funding support.