Title I and English Learner Services

Title I, Part D offers federal funding to improve the quality of education in facilities for neglected and delinquent youth who have yet to attain their high school attainment and are under the age of 21. DYS has historically used Title I funds for Literacy Specialists to support youth with significant literacy skills deficits and youth identified as English Learners (EL).


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Title I Programming

Currently, DYS has a team of six Literacy Specialists, who provide support to English Learners, and three English as a Second Language (ESL) Teaching Specialists, who provide direct ESL instruction, all of whom are funded through Title I, Part D. ESL Teaching Specialists are required to have and maintain ESL certification. Literacy Specialists must have and maintain a license in Reading, and general education teachers are expected to have the SEI endorsement, per DESE regulations. Literacy Specialists and ESL Teaching Specialists are evaluated routinely using the CES Teacher Evaluation System.

Individual Reading Plans

Once a youth is referred to a Literacy Specialist, the youth’s public-school records, and any assessment data are reviewed and used to develop an Individual Reading Plan. Youth who are assessed at belowgrade- level performance (typically by two grades or more) or are EL, are provided targeted one-on-one instruction by a Literacy Specialist. The Literacy Specialists are assigned to work with youth in the DYS residential treatment programs.

Literacy Specialists have provided reading supports to youth using one or more of the following reading programs: SRA Corrective Reading, Achieve Maximum Potential (AMP), Verbalizing and Visualizing, Great Leaps. These programs were supplemented with specialized reading software that included Thinking Reader, Open Book, Lexia Core5 Reading, and Lexia PowerUp, which helped youth build the literacy skills to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate increasingly complex literary and informational texts.

Teacher explaining in classroom

Literacy Specialists

Literacy Specialists are instrumental in supporting youth on the path to obtain their HiSET®. The additional support provided by the Literacy Specialists helps youth make significant progress toward grade-level literacy. Literary Specialists also support youth in detention by developing specific packets of schoolwork for them, checking weekly on their progress, and establishing office hours for youth to reach out by phone call or Google Meet with questions or concerns regarding their work.

Student Stories

A New Approach for Jamal

Jamal arrived in the Metro Region in the fall and had scored below the cut off score on all his HiSET®, practice subtests. He scored 54% correct in the reading, with test data showing a deficit in the elements of poetry (imagery, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.). Since there is always a poetry passage on the HiSET® reading assessment, the English Language Arts team in the Metro Region created a unit on poetry. They used the book Hip Hop Poetry, by Alan Sitomer and Michael Cirelli, as the cornerstone for instruction. The unit was a success. In February, Jamal retook and passed the reading practice test with a score of 77%. In March, Jamal passed all HiSET®, practice tests except for science, but pressed on through the Spring until he passed and obtained his HiSET® Diploma.

A Plan for Rafael

Rafael was in a DYS operated residential program and then transferred to a DYS provider operated home. Rafael took all HiSET® practice tests but did not pass any, scoring only a 60% in reading. Like Jamal, one of his deficits was in the elements of poetry, and he greatly benefited from engaging in the poetry unit. At the same time, the Literacy Specialist created a plan for Rafael to work on academic language. In January, Rafael scored 75% on the reading practice test. In the Spring, he took the math and writing portions of the formal HiSET® test and passed them both. Persevering into the summer, Rafael passed the three remaining tests.

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