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Lindamood-Bell Literacy Program

In 2002, the San Diego Juvenile Court, San Diego County Office of Education, the District Attorney’s Office, and the San Diego County Probation Department formed a coalition to address the local literacy crisis among male youth incarcerated in Probation Department rehabilitation facilities. Research indicates that early development of language processing skills is critical for academic success and test scores in 2000 show that on average, male wards who enter the system are reading 3.8 years below their chronological grade level.

As part of the program, juveniles committed to the Juvenile Ranch Facility through Breaking Cycles or to Camp Barrett were screened at Juvenile Hall. After Probation ensured that the youth met other eligibility criteria (e.g., sufficient commitment time to receive the 8 to 10 week program), they completed a full battery of screening tests. Because the number of spaces in the program was limited, 400 eligible juveniles were randomized to either receive the literacy training (300) or to be a member of the comparison group (100).

Literacy training was provided through Lindamood-Bell which has pioneered programs to develop the sensory-cognitive processes that underlie reading, spelling, math, visual-motor skills, language comprehension, and critical thinking. Customized learning plans were developed to address each student’s unique needs, and classes of three to five students received daily blocks of instruction ranging from three to four hours per day.

SANDAG staff worked with program partners to track the characteristics of all youth screened and tested and collected data through client surveys, documentation from school and program records, client interviews, and criminal activity checks.

Project Manager

Lisbeth Howard, Associate Criminal Justice Research Analyst
Phone: (619) 699-6910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or