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Local Validation of SPEP Ratings of Juvenile Justice Program Effectiveness

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2017
35 pages
As part of an overall evaluation of the implementation of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP's) Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative (JJRRI), this report focuses on the evaluation of one component of the JJRRI model, the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) rating system, which applies evidence of program effectiveness to juvenile justice services and guides improvements to those services.
A previous evaluation report focused on SPEP implementation requirements, which involve the establishment of strong data systems and reliable, timely risk assessment. That report concludes that a first round of SPEP rating tends to uncover deficiencies that then motivate reforms with potential to improve the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system. The SPEP evaluation also locally validated the relationship between SPEP ratings and reduced recidivism. This is the subject of the current report. Of the three JJRRI demonstration sites (Delaware, Iowa, and Milwaukee County, WI), only Iowa seemed a suitable site for local validation. The Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning provided the evaluators with data for this purpose, which are analyzed in the current report. This report concludes that Iowa's SPEP data cannot support an attempt to correlate SPEP ratings with recidivism, after controlling for prior risk of recidivism, which is at the core of local validation. Factors underlying this conclusion are discussed. This report notes, however, that this conclusion does not undermine the evidence base on which the SPEP was designed or its potential to improve the effectiveness of services. It shows that local validation of the relationship between SPEP ratings and recidivism requires a large sample of rated services delivered independently so their effects can be distinguished. 8 tables, 9 references, and appended supplementary data

Date Published: April 1, 2017