Lifting the Bar

Education After Juvenile Detention

Every year, tens of thousands of children are incarcerated in juvenile-detention facilities. The vast majority are Black, Latino, and indigenous boys. Much attention has been paid to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” but less has been devoted to the successful reentry of children from detention centers to mainstream schooling. These students experience exceedingly high rates of school dropout and recidivism. The Stanford Lifting the Bar Project is building on promising pilot research to work with country and district leaders to implement and evaluate a novel procedure to strengthen student-educator relationships. Students identify respected adults at their school and write them a letter outlining their goals for the future and their requests for support. Their work is centered around building positive and supportive relationships between students and educators, and elevating the voice of students so that both the student and educator may pursue these goals together. 

The Lifting the Bar Project was awarded $500,000 in start-up impact lab funding from Stanford Impact Labs to support and accelerate their work between 2021 and 2023.

Our Team:

Dr. Greg Walton, the Michael Forman University Fellow in Undergraduate  Education and Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford; Principal Investigator.

Alysse Castro (Partner, SFUSD), Executive Director for Alternative Schools at SFUSD; 

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (Senior Advisor) is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford, CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, and President of the  California State Board of Education

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt (Co-I), Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Psychology at Stanford 

Dr. Jason Okonofua (Co-I), Assistant Professor of Psychology at U-C, Berkeley 

Dr. Chandra Muller (Co-I), Professor of Sociology at U-T, Austin

Jackie White (Partner, Sacramento County), Assistant Superintendent of Court  and Community Schools for the Sacramento County Office of Education

Dr. Katie Remington Cunningham (Co-I), Research Director for the Minnesota Justice Research Center

Dr. Jorge Ruiz de Velasco (Senior Advisor), Associate Director of the Gardner Center at Stanford 

Hattie Tate (Partner, OUSD), Administrator/Coordinator at the Juvenile Justice Center for  OUSD and Oakland Unite and former teacher and principal

Dr. Elizabeth Tipton (Co-I), Associate Professor of Statistics,  Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research, and Co-Director of the Statistics for  Evidence-Based Policy and Practice (STEPP) Center at Northwestern; David W. Gordon (Partner, Sacramento County), Sacramento County Superintendent of  Schools. 

Oakland Unified School District

San Francisco Unified Public School District

Sacramento County Office of Education

Related Content:

Keeping Kids in School and Out of Trouble: Pilot Program Tested in Oakland Schools Shows Success, ABC7 News Segment 

The One-Page Letter that Keeps Kids Out of Jail, Greg Walton writes in Psychology Today

Lifting the Bar: A Relationship-Orienting Intervention Reduces Recidivism Among Children Reentering School from Juvenile Detention, published by the Association for Psychological Science 

Stanford Researchers and Oakland Educators Develop Intervention to Reduce Juvenile Recidivism, Stanford News Service 

Social Belonging to Help Students Thrive After Juvenile Detention, Q&A with Katie Remington Cunningham and Hattie Tate