Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults

Lois M. Davis
Robert Bozick
Jennifer L. Steele
Jessica Saunders
Jeremy N. V. Miles
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 110
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt4cgdz5
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  • Book Info
    Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
    Book Description:

    After conducting a comprehensive literature search, the authors undertook a meta-analysis to examine the association between correctional education and reductions in recidivism, improvements in employment after release from prison, and other outcomes. The study finds that receiving correctional education while incarcerated reduces inmates’ risk of recidivating and may improve their odds of obtaining employment after release from prison.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8132-2
    Subjects: Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. iii-iv)
    Denise E. O’Donnell and Brenda Dann-Messier

    Each year, thousands of incarcerated adults leave the nation’s prisons and jails and return to their families and communities. While many successfully reintegrate into their communities, find jobs, and become productive members of society, many others will commit new crimes and end up being reincarcerated. Although a number of factors account for why some ex-prisoners succeed and some don’t, we know that a lack of education and skills is one key reason. This is why correctional education programs—whether academically or vocationally focused—are a key service provided in correctional facilities across the nation. But do such correctional education programs...

  3. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Summary
    (pp. xv-xx)

    It is challenging to prepare offenders with the needed vocational skills and education to be successful in reintegrating back into society. Offenders, on average, are less educated than the general population. For example, in 2004, approximately 36 percent of individuals in state prisons had attained less than a high school education compared with 19 percent of the general U.S. population age 16 and over. In addition to having lower levels of educational attainment, offenders often lack vocational skills and a steady history of employment, which is a significant challenge for individuals returning from prison to local communities. And the dynamics...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  10. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    On April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act (Public Law 110-199) (SCA) was signed into law. This important piece of legislation was designed to improve outcomes for individuals who are incarcerated, most of whom will ultimately return to communities upon release. The Second Chance Act’s grant programs are funded and administered by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In 2010, for the first time under the SCA, funding was set aside for a comprehensive study of correctional education. OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded the RAND Corporation a cooperative agreement to comprehensively...

  11. CHAPTER TWO Study Methodology
    (pp. 13-26)

    This chapter describes our literature search, screening, and review procedures; our approaches to rating the rigor of each study; and the meta-analytic model used to pool and to synthesize the results of these studies. As described in greater detail in this chapter, the meta-analytic results we present are from a comprehensive literature search for published and unpublished studies released between 1980 and 2011 that examined the relationship between correctional education participation and inmate outcomes. We decided to use 1980 as a starting point to ensure that we captured a large enough sample of studies to conduct a meta-analysis with sufficient...

  12. CHAPTER THREE The Relationship Between Correctional Education and Recidivism
    (pp. 27-40)

    This chapter presents the results from our meta-analysis where recidivism is the outcome. We first describe how we defined and measured recidivism across the 50 eligible studies and then pool all 71 effect size estimates from the 50 studies together to provide an aggregate estimate of the relationship between participation in correctional education and recidivism. Next, we examine the relationship when restricting only to studies with the most rigorous research designs. We then use previously published national estimates of recidivism to help interpret the magnitude of this relationship. We also explore whether the relationship between correctional education and recidivism varies...

  13. CHAPTER FOUR The Relationship Between Correctional Education and Employment
    (pp. 41-48)

    This chapter presents the results from our meta-analysis where employment is the outcome. We first describe how we defined and measured employment across the 18 eligible studies, and we then pool all the studies together to provide an aggregate estimate of the relationship between participation in correctional education and employment. Next, we explore whether the relationship between correctional education and employment differs by the type of program and the method used to measure employment.

    Employment was measured a number of ways across the 18 eligible studies along three dimensions: the definition of employment used by the researcher, the time period...

  14. CHAPTER FIVE The Relationship Between Computer-Assisted Instruction and Academic Performance
    (pp. 49-56)

    This chapter presents the results from a meta-analysis in which standardized test scores in mathematics or reading are the outcome variables of interest, and in which the treatment variable of interest is correctional education administered via computer-assisted instruction rather than traditional, face-to-face classroom instruction. As noted in Chapter Two, only four studies that use achievement test scores met our eligibility criteria for inclusion. However, a benefit is that all four of these studies examine programs that use computer-assisted instruction—thus, allowing us to examine more closely an instructional delivery method that is increasingly popular in correctional settings. We first provide...

  15. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions
    (pp. 57-66)

    The goal of this report was to address the question of what we know about the effectiveness of correctional education—academic programs and vocational training programs—for incarcerated adults in U.S. state prisons. Specifically, we examined the evidence about the relationship between correctional education and recidivism and postrelease employment outcomes and the relationship between academic performance and computer-assisted instruction. These findings will inform policymakers, educators, and correctional education administrators interested in understanding the association between correctional education and reductions in recidivism and improvements in employment and other outcomes.

    In this chapter, we summarize our overall findings, provide specific recommendations for...

  16. APPENDIX A Document Identification Parameters and Sources
    (pp. 67-70)
  17. APPENDIX B Scientific Review Team Members
    (pp. 71-72)
  18. APPENDIX C Meta-Analysis Diagnostic Tests
    (pp. 73-80)
  19. References
    (pp. 81-86)