Missouri Star School Initiative

The Missouri StarSchool program addresses the educational needs of court-involved students who cannot, or do not, return to their home school during or after treatment services.

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Frequently, these students are precluded from returning to school; or, returning to regular school is not a viable option.

The Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) provides non-residential care education services in only 10 locations, primarily densely populated areas. There are large areas of the state left without non-residential education services. In most communities, there are too few students to justify developing a local brick and mortar program.

Until now, the only means DYS had for delivering education services to those students was to retain them in a residential or a community resource center which is not always in the best interest of the young person, nor fiscally responsible.

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Educational attainment is important. In its recidivism studies, DYS found a positive correlation between educational completion and law-abiding behavior: students, who complete their high school diploma, or equivalent, are more likely to be law-abiding members of their community.

DYS partnered with the Local Investment Commission (LINC) to extend educational services to this population using technology and highly qualified teachers to provide educational services combining computer-assisted and direct distance-learning instruction.

Through technology, teachers communicate regularly with their distant students about their personalized study plans and lessons.

At the local level, volunteer education mentors, or learning coaches, provide the students with the human connection through personal support, guidance and encouragement and sometimes tutoring.

Students are assigned to access the web-based programs from outside their homes believing that students take school more seriously and are more likely to succeed when they attend school at a designated location at a specified day and time. On a case-by-case basis, DYS helps locate site sponsors who provide the student with internet access and a place to learn and study.

Site sponsors are generally local organizations, employers or public settings. Students may connect to the Missouri StarSchool through youth organizations, faith-based organizations, community development centers, clubs or groups, government offices or employers.

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A personalized education plan is developed to help each student meet his or her education goals. A wide spectrum curriculum helps students recover or accrue credits to be applied toward a high school diploma, GED certificate, and/orNational Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). In addition, students may seek assistance to improve their performance on college entrance exams.

Missouri StarSchool provides a personalized approach that uses technology to connect DYS youth to learning, career, community and family.

Since introducing the distance learning idea for this special population, interest has been generated in other entities such as the Juvenile Courts, Missouri Dept. of Mental Health and the Missouri Children's Division. These government entities have expressed a desire to place students in the program.