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IES Grant

Title: Developing a Program of Postsecondary Academic Instruction Over the Corrections Learning Network
Center: NCER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Steurer, Stephen Awardee: Correctional Education Association
Program: Postsecondary and Adult Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $1,997,936
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305B070077
Description:

Purpose: Within three years after their release, on average 67 percent of former prisoners are re-arrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated. A number of educational programs are offered through prisons to improve educational and occupational outcomes for prisoners. The purpose of this project is to examine the potential effect of College of the Air curricula delivered via the Corrections Learning Network on access, persistence, and completion of courses leading to postsecondary degrees by incarcerated youth.

Project Activities: The research team is conducting a randomized controlled trial to complete an initial evaluation of the effect of College of the Air curriculum on recidivism and workforce participation of adults who receive the curriculum through the Corrections Learning Network, a satellite-based distance learning initiative available to prison inmates. In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Correction, the Network is providing postsecondary education programming adapted from the Milwaukee Area Technical College's College of the Air program. The College of the Air curricula delivered via the Corrections Learning Network offers three consecutive 22-credit General Education Certificates, which lead to an Associate of Arts degree. The research team is randomly assigning prisons to receive College of the Air/Correctional Learning Network programming or to continue with their existing education programs.

Products: The products of this project include published reports on the potential effects of College of the Air/Correctional Learning Network educational programming on incarcerated adults.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the potential effect of College of the Air curricula delivered via the Corrections Learning Network on access, persistence, and completion of courses leading to postsecondary degrees by incarcerated youth.

Setting: Forty-four prisons with a high concentration of youth offenders (aged 18-25) in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin comprise the sample for the study. These prisons represent a combination of minimum-, medium-, and maximum-security institutions; reflect the racial/ethnic diversity of their state inmate populations; and consist of male and female inmates, with a disproportionate representation of males, reflecting the more general characteristics of U.S. prisons.

Population: The study population includes inmates between the ages of 18 and 25, with a release date between one and five years, in possession of a high school diploma or equivalent, and whose tuition costs are paid through external grant funding available to prisons.

Intervention: The Corrections Learning Network is a satellite-based distance learning initiative. In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Correction, the network is providing postsecondary education programming adapted from the Milwaukee Area Technical College's College of the Air program. The College of the Air curricula delivered via the Corrections Learning Network offers three consecutive 22-credit General Education Certificates, which lead to an Associate of Arts degree. The degree is intended to be an intermediate goal prior to completing a four-year degree that provides the preparation necessary to enter or advance in the workplace.

Research Design and Methods: The research team randomly assigns prisons to receive either College of the Air/Correctional Learning Network programming or other programming.

Control Condition: In the control condition, prisons offer their existing educational programs.

Key Measures: Participant outcomes to be examined include academic achievement, achievement motivation, educational aspirations, progress toward completing a postsecondary degree, and employability. The Critical Thinking test of the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (ACT, 2006) is being used to measure students' skills in clarifying, analyzing, evaluating, and extending arguments. The Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency is designed to assess and evaluate postsecondary general education programs. Outcomes for institutions include institutional climate and rates of recidivism.

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear regression models and repeated measures analyses of covariance are being used to examine participant and institutional outcomes, respectively.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Meyer, S.J. (2011). Factors Affecting Student Success in Postsecondary Academic Correctional Education Programs. Journal of Correctional Education, 62(2).

Meyer, S.J., and Randel, B. (2013). The Impact of an Associate's Degree Program for Incarcerated Students: A Randomized Trial of the Correctional Education Association College of the Air Program. Community College Review, 41(3): 223–248.

Meyer, S.J., Fredericks, L., Borden, C.M., and Richardson, P.L. (2010). Implementing Postsecondary Academic Programs in State Prisons: Challenges and Opportunities. Journal of Correctional Education, 61(2): 148–184.


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