Language: Critical Components in Readers with Criminal Referral History by ProQuest


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									            The Journal of Correctional Education 60(4) • December 2009

     Language: Critical Components in
   Readers with Criminal Referral History

                                 Derrick E. Platt

Low levels of reading performance are associated with delinquency. However, few
studies have investigated the relationship between early involvement in the justice
system and reading problems. This study examined the relationship between youth at
various early stages of involvement with criminal behaviors and reading abilities
(specifically, literal comprehension, inference, main idea, and language). The
demographic variables included age and ethnicity, as well as number of times
previously detained, number of days detained, and number of prior referrals. These
variables were correlated with performance on a test of reading achievement. Results
showed that lower language scores were significantly correlated with increased referral
history. The relationship suggests that youth with lower language scores experience
higher number of referrals for breaking the law. Implications of this study include the
need for language interventions at early signs of behavior problems and intense
language interventions at early signs of law breaking.

Reading is the “single most important skill” that helps youth succeed in life
academically, socially, and vocationally (Leone, Krezmien, Mason, & Meisel,
2005, p.239). When students do not become proficient readers in elementary
school, they are at risk for problem behaviors as well as future delinquency
(Daal, Verhoeven, & Balkom, 2007, Harris, Baltodano, Artiles, & Rutherford,
2006, Rivera, Al-Otaiba, & Koorland, 2006, Leone, et al. 2005). VanderStaay
(2006) reviewed longitudinal research on relationships between reading and
criminal, delinquent, and antisocial behaviors and concluded that reading and
the beginning, ongoing, and escalating of antisocial behaviors are a “key public
health concern” (p. 336). In response, Federal legislation and public policies are
in place that mandate schools more effectively teach youth at risk with reading
problems. In both Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child
Left Behind (NCLB), practitioners are required to implement research-based

          The Journal of Correctional Education 60(4) • De
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