Saturday, September 15, 2007

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Homeless face challenges at school
Express-News – September 11, 2007
While most school-age children are getting over the new school-year jitters, scores of children across the city fact a different kind of challenge. Instead of just worrying about their homework and how they’re going to make new friends, homeless students struggle on a daily basis with basic things, like where they’ll spend the night. Experts who study the root causes of homelessness say it’s a pervasive problem that has far-reaching ramifications: Homeless children are far more likely to drop out of school, thus making them more likely to stay homeless. A June 2007 U.S. Department of Education report identified 195,521 homeless students in Texas during the last school year. Nationally, the number of homeless students who were enrolled in grader K-12 increased by 28 percent – totaling a record 907, 228 homeless students in the last school year that experts attribute to displaced students from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, officials said.

Utah may swap standardized tests for online exams
The Salt Lake Tribune – September 8, 2007
Utah students may be able to say goodbye to several standardized tests – and hello to “adaptive” online tests – if State Schools Superintendent Patti Harrington and an alliance of state educators have their way. In place of the of the old tests, she and the K-16 Alliance would like to see students in grades two through 12 take adaptive, online tests at least three times a year. Harrington said the adaptive tests, which would be fitted to each student’s needs and progress, would do a better job of showing teachers how students are progressing and which areas they need to work on during the school year. Also, the tests would be online, allowing teachers to see results quickly as opposed to waiting, as they must with other standardized tests.

Speeding encouraged
Tracy Press – September 14, 2007
Tracy Unified School District now offers school on the really fast track. The district introduced computer software called Cyber High at Duncan-Russell High School this summer that allows would-be dropouts and students who have fallen behind to make up failed credits at nearly three times the pace of traditional classes. Duncan-Russell’s 32 students sit at computers three hours every weekday to earn as many as five credits a week, the equivalent of a semester-long class. They read through state standardized lessons and take a test at the end of each unit. The students will eventually transfer to a continuation or traditional high school to continue classes and eventually receive a diploma, after passing the California High School Exit Exam.

Juvenile Justice

Closing of girls’ facility urged
Baltimore Sun – September 15, 2007
The state’s primary facility for delinquent girls is so dilapidated and unsafe that it should be closed, according to Maryland’s juvenile justice monitor. The recommendation to close Waxter is part of a broader report on the physical condition of several facilities that house youths who have been found guilty of crimes or are awaiting hearings after arrests. “If Maryland is to have any hope of rehabilitating delinquent youth and stanching the steady flow of children into the adult criminal system, immediate action must be taken to improve the facilities in which they are housed and the rehabilitative programs and services offered to them,” the report says.

Coalition bands together to provide youth jobs
South Carolina Now – September 13, 2007
With 15 thousand students in Florence School District one alone, the community has banded together to give those thousands a promising future. Educators, police, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Florence Mayor’s Coalition are working together to combat gangs. A deterrent that’s proven its success is the “JOBS” program created by the Florence Department of Juvenile Justice. This summer they trained 230 kids and helped 170 of those kids earn part time jobs. This summer officials said juvenile felonies have dropped 75 percent, Department of Juvenile Justice referrals dropped 20 percent and there were 45 percent fewer juvenile arbitration cases.

Foster Care

Bill to support disabled foster youth heads to governor
Times-Herald - September 13, 2007
California’s disabled foster youth are one step closer to gaining a “safety net,” with the passage late Tuesday of Assemblywoman Noreen Evans’ bill, AB 1331. The bill requires county welfare agencies to screen all foster youth age 16 and 17 for a mental or physical disability and assist them in applying for Supplemental Security Income, which provides a monthly cash benefit for the disabled. The goal is to have SSI in place for eligible youth once they age out of the foster care system. The bill allows youth with pending SSI applications to remain in foster care past their 18th birthdays until their applications are processed.

Youth Alliance videos helping teens cope
The Connecticut Post – September 9, 2007
Standburry is one of eight teens who created digital stories as part of a project they described as part internship, part therapeutic. The assignment was to share a bit about themselves as a teenager aging out of the state’s foster care system. The project has a screening this month at the Bridgeport Public Library. Connecticut Youth Alliance is looking at ways to show and distribute the videos online. The projects was inspired by a similar digital storytelling project run by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Associations, said Joan Jenkins, executive director of Children in Placement Inc., a Connecticut-based nonprofit.

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