Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education

A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults

by Lois M. Davis, Robert Bozick, Jennifer L. Steele, Jessica Saunders, Jeremy N. V. Miles

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Appendix D

Scientific Review Data Abstraction Protocol

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Appendix E

Eligibility Status for Inclusion into the Meta-Analysis

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Appendix F

Summaries of Studies Included in the Recidivism Meta-Analysis

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Appendix G

Summaries of Studies Included in the Employment Meta-Analysis

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Appendix H

Summaries of Studies Included in the Computer-Assisted Instruction Meta-Analysis

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Research Questions

  1. How effective are correctional education programs in reducing recidivism?
  2. How effective are correctional education programs in improving one's chances of obtaining employment upon release from prison?
  3. Is correctional education cost effective?
  4. What types of educational programs are most effective?
  5. What additional information is needed to understand the characteristics of effective programs and further build the research evidence base?

Abstract

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 learning in math and in reading. Their findings support the premise that receiving correctional education while incarcerated reduces an individual's risk of recidivating. They also found that those receiving correctional education had improved odds of obtaining employment after release. The authors also examined the benefits of computer-assisted learning and compared the costs of prison education programs with the costs of reincarceration.

Key Findings

Correctional Education Improves Inmates' Outcomes after Release

  • Correctional education improves inmates' chances of not returning to prison.
  • Inmates who participate in correctional education programs had a 43 percent lower odds of recidivating than those who did not. This translates to a reduction in the risk of recidivating of 13 percentage points.
  • It may improve their chances of obtaining employment after release. The odds of obtaining employment post-release among inmates who participated in correctional education was 13 percent higher than the odds for those who did not participate in correctional education.
  • Inmates exposed to computer-assisted instruction learned slightly more in reading and substantially more in math in the same amount of instructional time.
  • Providing correctional education can be cost-effective when it comes to reducing recidivism.

Recommendations

  • Further studies should be undertaken to identify the characteristics of effective programs in terms of curriculum, dosage, and quality.
  • Future studies should incorporate stronger research designs.
  • Funding grants would be useful in helping further the field, by enabling correctional educators to partner with researchers and evaluators to evaluate their programs.
  • A study registry of correctional education evaluations would help develop the evidence base in the field, to inform policy and programmatic decisionmaking.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Study Methodology

  • Chapter Three

    The Relationship Between Correctional Education and Recidivism

  • Chapter Four

    The Relationship Between Correctional Education and Employment

  • Chapter Five

    The Relationship Between Computer-Assisted Instruction and Academic Performance

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Document Identification Parameters and Sources

  • Appendix B

    Scientific Review Team Members

  • Appendix C

    Meta-Analysis Diagnostic Tests

  • Appendix D

    Scientific Review Data Abstraction Protocol

  • Appendix E

    Eligibility Status for Inclusion into the Meta-Analysis

  • Appendix F

    Summaries of Studies Included in the Recidivism Meta-Analysis

  • Appendix G

    Summaries of Studies Included in the Employment Meta-Analysis

  • Appendix H

    Summaries of Studies Included in the Computer-Assisted Instruction Meta-Analysis

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and conducted in the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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