Reading well is a critical skill for all students, whether they are planning to attend college or work at a trade. Students have varied success acquiring reading skills in the average K-12 academic setting, but those whose educational process has been interrupted or unsupported will struggle even more. Many adjudicated youths find themselves in this predicament. When they have an opportunity such as North Central Secure Treatment Unit (NCSTU) offers them, it is as if they get a second chance to start over.

The Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU), a regional education service agency, is one of 29 Intermediate Units in Pennsylvania that work with local school districts to provide, among other services, academic classes for incarcerated youth. The CSIU teachers at NCSTU provide a well-rounded educational experience in the four core academic subjects, as well as trades. A student’s length of stay at either one of the two boys’ schools or two girls’ schools varies greatly—anywhere from a few months to a few years based on the determination of the courts.

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In this time students are able to attain a high school diploma, a GED, take online college courses, or get certifications leading into a trade. The classes are grouped by age (13-20) instead of by grade level with 6-8 students in a class. There is a broad range of academic ability level within each class. Some students can read and answer high-level questions about complex text, while others come unable to decode words.

About the Author:

Chris Mitcheltree is the curriculum and instructional support specialist at Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit in Danville, Penn.