Developing a Program of Postsecondary Academic Instruction in State Prisons Improving Evidence of Impact through a National Study of The Correctional Education Association College of the Air (CEA/COA) Program Spring 2010 Project Update Dr. Stephen - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Developing a Program of Postsecondary Academic Instruction in State Prisons Improving Evidence of Impact through a National Study of The Correctional Education Association College of the Air (CEA/COA) Program Spring 2010 Project Update Dr. Stephen


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Title: Developing a Program of Postsecondary Academic Instruction in State Prisons Improving Evidence of Impact through a National Study of The Correctional Education Association College of the Air (CEA/COA) Program Spring 2010 Project Update Dr. Stephen

Developing a Program of Postsecondary Academic
Instruction in State PrisonsImproving Evidence
of Impact through a National Study of The
Correctional Education Association College of the
Air (CEA/COA) Program Spring 2010 Project
Update Dr. Stephen Meyer, Principal
InvestigatorRMC Research CorporationCindy
Borden Penny Richardson, Field
InvestigatorsNorthstar Correctional Education
ServicesLinda Fredericks, Qualitative Analyst
RMC Research Corporation Dr. Stephen Steurer,
Project DirectorCorrectional Education
  • CEA Leadership Forum March 29, 2010

This Session
  • Context for Focus on Postsecondary Education
  • Study Overview
  • Cohort 1 Implementation Findings
  • Considerations for Implementing College Programs
  • Initial Results from Post-Release Interviews
  • Next Steps

Context for Focus on Postsecondary Education in
Importance of Postsecondary Ed.
  • Labor market demand for jobs requiring a
    postsecondary education expected to increase
  • Obama administration investments in college to
    increase participation and completion

Promise of Postsecondary Ed. in Prison
  • Evidence of positive impact on
  • Recidivism
  • Rates of employment, earnings
  • Inmate behavior, attitudes, self-esteem
  • Disciplinary infractions, relationships among
    inmates and correctional staff, development of
    positive peer role models

Postsecondary Ed. Participation in Prison
  • Fewer than 25 of state/federal prison inmates
    have college experience
  • Programs available at between 35 and 42 of
  • An estimated 11 of eligible participation
    participates (5 of total population)

Study Overview
Study Goals
  • Provide information about the implementation,
    effectiveness, impact of a widely available
    postsecondary academic delivery model that can
    facilitate access, persistence, and completion of
    postsecondary education by incarcerated students
  • Provide evidence that meets rigorous research

CEA/COA Program
  • Partnership - Correctional Education Association
    (CEA) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC)
  • General education/liberal arts and sciences
    courses leading to an Associate of Arts degree to
    students in prison
  • 21 course (66 credit) sequence 7 interim
  • 325 per 3 credit course
  • Two pre-college level courses (College Success
    and College Technical Math)
  • 10 courses offered during each 16-week semester
    of 2009-2010, including 8-week compressed
    courses also 10-week summer courses

CEA/COA Program
  • DVD video programs (min of 2x30min/wk)
  • Readings and assignments using texts, study
    guides, workbooks, and CD-ROMs
  • Site coordinator
  • Inform, advise, register students
  • Liaison between students/instructors
  • Ensure resources (e.g., materials, space,
  • Proctor tests
  • Track student progress

Research Questions
  • To what extent does the Correctional Education
    Association College of the Air (CEA/COA)
  • Increase rates of participation in postsecondary
    and other academic programming?
  • Improve participants academic achievement
    outcomes and progress toward postsecondary
    academic degrees?
  • Improve participants achievement motivation and
    educational aspirations?
  • Affect post-release employability for
  • Affect institutional outcomes, such as
    institutional climate and recidivism?
  • To what extent do aspects of the CEA/COA
    curriculum and its delivery, institutional
    support, participant engagement, and participant
    characteristics affect outcomes?

Logic Model
Random Assignment Design
  • If assigned to experimental condition, CEA/COA
    provided as the primary institution-sponsored PS
    academic curriculum for the duration of the
  • If assigned to control condition, alternative PS
    academic programming made available for the
    duration of the study. CEA/COA must not be

  • Three-year study, began fall 2008
  • Three cohorts of students (fall 2008, 2009, 2010)
  • Fall and spring data collection through spring
  • Post-release interviews 2010-2012

Requirements for Study Sites
  • Have the infrastructure to provide postsecondary
    academic instruction
  • Have not offered CEA/COA in the past
  • Provide federal Incarcerated Individuals Program
    funds (IYO in 2008-09) or other funds for PS
    academic programs
  • Willing to be randomly assigned to treatment or
    control condition as part of the study
  • Have a population that will provide a minimum of
    approximately 15 study participants each fall
    beginning PS academic programming whose tuition
    costs are paid using IIP/IYO or other grant
    funding and who meet eligibility for IIP/IYO
  • (1) have a secondary school diploma or
    equivalent (2) eligible for release within 7
    years (3) 35 years of age or younger and (4)
    not have been convicted of a) a criminal offence
    against a victim who is a minor, b) a sexually
    violent offence, or c) murder.

Data Sources
  • Data collection conducted by research team during
    onsite visit
  • CAAP Critical Thinking Test
  • Student Survey
  • Site Coordinator Survey
  • Institutional Data
  • Student Follow-up Telephone Interview
  • Case Studies (interviews, focus groups,
    observations sample of sites)

Cohort 1 Implementation Findings
Questions for Initial Analyses
  1. What are the characteristics of students in
    postsecondary education programs?
  2. What program content and instructional delivery
    comprise these programs?
  3. What types of instructional resources and support
    are available to students?
  4. What benefits for students and for institutions
    are associated with participation?
  5. What factors interfere with successful
    implementation and what suggestions do students,
    educators, and administrators have for improving

Cohort 1 Sample
  • 38 institutions in 5 states (Iowa, Massachusetts,
    Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Carolina)
  • 20 assigned to implement CEA/COA
  • 6 womens facilities
  • Mostly medium security facilities (slightly over
    half). The other half included roughly equal
    proportions of minimum security facilities,
    maximum security facilities, and facilities with
    multiple security levels.

Cohort 1 Sample
  • 259 students who participated in baseline and
    follow-up data collection (117 CEA/COA and 142
  • IA 54 students (21) MA 53 students (21) NV
    38 students (15) OK 43 students (17) SC 71
    students (27)

Student Characteristics
  • Average age 22.5
  • Male (78)
  • White/Caucasian (46), Black/African-American
    (37), Latino/Hispanic (11), Other (6)
  • Never married (90)
  • Parent (38)
  • Received high school equivalency in prison (55)
  • No prior postsecondary ed (65)

Student Characteristics
  • 65 had no prior postsecondary ed
  • Those who did, reported completing an average of
    5.1 courses
  • Student Achievement - Critical Thinking Test
  • Baseline average score 58.8
  • Close to typical American college sophomore
  • Slight non-significant increase at follow-up

Course Participation
  • 82 successfully completed at least 1 course
  • Average number of completed courses was 2.5
    (ranged from 1 to 9)
  • Freshman and sophomore level liberal arts courses
    in English composition, sociology, economics,
    psychology, political science, history, and
    environmental science

Instructional Delivery
  • Classroom observations (8 CEA/COA, 5 control)
  • Watching prerecorded lessons, participating in
    lessons led by an instructor or site coordinator,
    discussing course topics, and reviewing course
    assignments and tests
  • Site coordinator involvement varied
  • Peer support varied

Support for Participation
  • Encouragement from family and peers
  • Encouragement from education and prison staff,
    tutors, instructors
  • Other supports efforts by prison to publicize
    courses, access to computer lab and library,
    tuition support, books, good time credit

Support for Participation
  • Most comments about site coordinators were
  • Comments about support from officers were mixed

Positive Aspects of Programs (Students)
  • Opportunity to gain knowledge, become a better
  • Positive challenge
  • The feeling of independence
  • Being part of a group that was motivated to
  • Coursework with cost that led to degree
  • Being invited to participate in the program
  • Feeling respected by others
  • The self-paced instruction
  • Having a syllabus that provided clear
  • Getting new textbooks

Positive Aspects of Programs (Site Coordinators,
  • Furthering inmate knowledge, providing
  • General ed courses, study guides
  • Distance learning - ease of delivery,
    affordable, greater variety of courses
  • Direct instruction - interaction with professors,
    ability to answer student questions

Perceptions of Student Outcomes (Site
Coordinators, Administrators)
  • Reduced behavioral problems and detention
  • Improved ability to abide by behavioral norms in
    the classroom
  • Increased confidence, motivation,
    self-discipline, and maturity
  • Improved self-image
  • Improved communication skills and willingness to
    engage in thoughtful conversations
  • Improved logical thinking skills
  • Higher ambitions

Perceptions of Institutional Outcomes (Site
Coordinators, Administrators)
  • Relationships among inmates or between inmates
    and institutional staff
  • Encouragement for others to learn and grow
  • Stabilization of inmate behavior on the yard
  • Inmates being more supportive of each other
  • Inmates becoming more responsible in facility
    jobs and seeking higher level jobs
  • Positive influence on hearings with parole boards

Perceptions of Outcomes (Students)
  • Improved study skills and test taking ability
  • Improvements in writing and content knowledge
  • Improved social, communication, presentation, and
    critical thinking skills
  • Improved relationships with peers
  • Increased willingness to interact with and help
    out others in the program
  • Increased self esteem
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • The ability to be a role model for others

Challenges (Students)
  • Lack of interaction with instructor (hard to stay
    motivated, difficult to get feedback)
  • Outdated textbooks and videos
  • Unclear expectations for success, lack of
    introductory materials
  • Limited reference materials
  • Late receipt of or unavailability of textbooks

Challenges (Students)
  • Inadequate preparation to take college-level
  • Lack of a place to study and limited time for
  • Lack of choice in courses, course cancellation,
    and limited funding to take multiple courses
  • Delays in receiving feedback on course work and
    receiving grades
  • Unconstructive critical feedback from an

Challenges (Site Coordinators, Administrators)
  • The lack of direct instruction and interaction
    between students and instructors
  • Unpreparedness of students to do college-level
  • The high level of difficulty associated with some
    course papers and exams
  • Lack of tutoring and other support for students
  • Shortage of research materials
  • Uncertainty about site coordinator roles and
  • Limited correlation between information in
    lessons and content in books
  • Lack of responsiveness by course instructors

Suggestions for Improvement (Students)
  • Interaction with instructor more feedback,
    support from local instructor
  • Increasing access to computers and research
    materials, Internet access
  • Provide classes to prepare for college-level
    courses (e.g., study skills)
  • Expand funding and course availability so more
    inmates could participate
  • Improve explanations about course format and
  • Provide a quiet place to study and dedicated
    classroom space
  • Have a tutor or coordinator to help the students

Suggestions for Improvement (Students)
  • Have more class time to allow for discussion
    among students after viewing a prerecorded lesson
  • Offer more courses and having them grouped
    together so that inmates could obtain a specific
    certification or degree
  • Give a realistic picture of expectations to let
    students know they have to be self-motivated and
    mature to succeed
  • Conduct better screening to ensure that students
    are sufficiently prepared and committed to

Suggestions for Improvement (Site Coordinators,
  • Offer more class choices and include a mandatory
    study skills component in the curriculum
  • Provide a preparatory course in college-level
    reading and writing
  • Make less challenging classes available for
    students making the transition from GED
    certification to college
  • Provide more computers, research materials, and
    study space for students

Suggestions for Improvement (Site Coordinators,
  • Better organize classes to lead to a certificate
    or degree and to provide marketable skills
  • Offer clearer guidance from the partner college
    about the support expected from the prison
  • Provide sites with the option to purchase used
  • Provide more basic supplies such as notebooks,
    folders, pens, and books
  • Allow inmates in college programs to avoid
    institutional transfers while enrolled

Summary of Outcomes
  • Improvements in student behavior and attitudes,
    including increased confidence, motivation,
    self-discipline, and maturity
  • Improved study skills, improved social,
    communication, and critical thinking skills, and
    increased self-esteem
  • Improvements in prison climate, including
    relationships among students and between students
    and institution staff
  • Several issues that presented substantial
    challenges to program success have implications
    for improving programs

Considerations for Implementing College Programs
Several Themes Identified
  • Student Readiness for College Level Work
  • Coverage of Science and Mathematics Topics
  • Identification of Student Participants
  • Role of the Site Coordinator
  • Institutional Incentives and Supports
  • Understanding Goals and Objectives of
    Postsecondary Programming
  • Peer Supports
  • Managing Challenges Created by Distance Learning

Student Readiness for College
  • Coursework too difficult, esp. for those who
    completed GED in prison
  • GED preparation described as inadequate
  • Need for study skills, writing skills
  • Recommendations
  • Offer course(s) focusing on readiness skills
  • As part of GED preparation
  • As prerequisite for PS program admission
  • Concurrently with enrollment
  • Recruit inmate tutors or other volunteers to
    provide targeted support to address student needs

Mathematics and Science Coverage
  • Limited coverage relative to other course content
  • Knowledge/skills needed for labor force
  • Recommendations
  • Explore ways to integrate into current curricula
  • Ensure readiness for these courses
  • Encourage early enrollment in these courses

Identification of Students
  • Issues of motivation and commitment
  • Academic ability, readiness skills
  • Need for self-discipline, maturity, social
    skills, ability to collaborate and pay attention
  • Recommendations
  • Take additional steps to ensure preparedness and
    motivation of students, e.g.
  • Local assessments, evaluations, or exercises
  • Trial courses
  • Clarify requirements, expectations

Role of the Site Coordinator
  • Large differences in roles, from program
    administrator (e.g., managing communication with
    course instructors, arranging lesson viewing,
    administering exams) to more direct role (e.g.,
    encouragement, leading discussions, targeted
  • Recommendations
  • Ensure that site coordinators have sufficient
    interest, ability, and time to carry out roles
  • Opportunities to share best practice
  • Provide guidance on how to foster support among
    inmates, solicit outside support

Institutional Incentives Supports
  • Differences across sites
  • Need for tutoring/advising opportunities to
    discuss lessons access to research materials,
    quiet places for study, computers, and supplies,
    such as folders, pens, and books
  • Recommendations
  • Monitor and address student concerns
  • Limit inmate transfers
  • Minimize scheduling conflicts

Communicating Goals/Objectives of Postsecondary
  • Correctional officers made strong contributions,
    both positive and negative
  • Recommendations
  • Provide professional development to communicate
    goals of postsecondary education, potential
    benefits, and the role that officers play in
  • Offer opportunities for officers to attend
    courses enroll at reduced or no cost

Peer Support
  • Varied across sites, but often a strong source of
  • Recommendations
  • Designate inmate clerk/tutors to facilitate
  • Provide opportunities for students to work
    together encourage culture of peer support

Managing Challenges with Distance Learning
  • Lack of interaction with instructor created
    challenges for staying motivated, monitoring
    progress and feedback on work, responses to
  • Recommendations
  • Ensure that site administrators monitor and
    address concerns
  • Explore periodic phone contact with offsite
  • Enhance local support (e.g., peer groups, tutors)

Study Limitations
  • Sample not representative of all states, all
  • Cohort 1 focus on youth offenders
  • Excludes self-pay students
  • Half are CEA/COA sites in first year of

Initial Results from Post-Release Interviews
Post-release Interviews
Interview complete Interview pending Unable to locate after 6 tries No info available Other TOTAL
NV 6 1 5 12 13 37
MA 3 4 13 10 14 44
IA 19 5 2 12 7 45
SC 11 3 2 16 8 40
OK 11 5 2 2 8 28
TOTAL 50 18 24 52 50 194
No ph survey mailed no response Escaped Re-incarcerated Federal custody New charges pending
NV 5 1 1 1 1
MA 4 0 2 0 0
IA 3 1 2 0 0
SC 5 0 3 0 0
OK 5 0 1 0 0
22 2 9 1 1
Deceased Refused interview Deported Incarcerated in another state Parole officer refused to cooperate Refused consent
NV 0 3 0 0 1 0
MA 1 5 0 1 0 1
IA 0 0 0 1 0 0
SC 0 0 0 0 0 0
OK 0 0 2 0 0 0
1 8 2 2 1 1
60.8 located
Next Steps and Discussion
Next Steps
  • Cohort 2 includes 43 sites in 7 states (addition
    of WI and TN)
  • Integrate Cohort 2 data (post-test data
    collection currently underway)
  • Examine pre- and post-release student outcomes
    (achievement, motivation, academic engagement,
    employment, recidivism)
  • Examine factors associated with positive outcomes

Dr. Stephen Meyer, Principal InvestigatorRMC
Research Corporationmeyer_at_rmcdenver.comCindy
Borden Penny Richardson, Field
InvestigatorsNorthstar Correctional Education
Servicesnorthstar_at_ekit.comDr. Stephen
Steurer, Project DirectorCorrectional Education
Contact Information
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