Rand study: Education programs lower prison recidivism

27 Aug

Moi has posted about the “school-to-prison” pipeline in The ‘school-to-prison pipeline’: Moi wrote about the “school-to-prison pipeline” in Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure:
Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline:

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions Schwartz reports:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/education/19discipline.html?_r=2&hpw&

Donna St. George has written a Washington Post article which elaborates on the Texas study.

In the article, Study shows wide varieties in discipline methods among very similar schools, St. George reports:

The report, released Tuesday, challenges a common misperception that the only way schools can manage behavior is through suspension, said Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. “The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” he said. “School administrators and school superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact….”
The results showed that suspension or expulsion greatly increased a student’s risk of being held back a grade, dropping out or landing in the juvenile justice system. Such ideas have been probed in other research, but not with such a large population and across a lengthy period, experts said.http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/study-exposes-some-some-myths-about-school-discipline/2011/07/18/gIQAV0sZMI_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion. Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials.https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failure/
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/27/the-school-to-prison-pipeline/

Sarah D. Sparks reported in the Education Week article, Education Lowers Prison Recidivism, Study Finds:

Finally, some good news in the so-called school-to-prison pipeline: It goes both ways.A new study by the RAND Corp., a Washington-based policy research group, finds that inmates who participate in prison education programs are more likely to find a job and less likely to return to prison after being released. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2013/08/education_lowers_prison_recidi.html?intc=es

Here is the press release from Rand:

FOR RELEASE
Thursday
August 22, 2013
Prison inmates who receive general education and vocational training are significantly less likely to return to prison after release and are more likely to find employment than peers who do not receive such opportunities, according to a new RAND Corporation report.
The findings, from the largest-ever meta-analysis of correctional educational studies, suggest that prison education programs are cost effective, with a $1 investment in prison education reducing incarceration costs by $4 to $5 during the first three years post-release.
“We found strong evidence that correctional education plays a role in reducing recidivism,” said Lois Davis, the project’s lead researcher and a senior policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Our findings are clear that providing inmates education programs and vocational training helps keep them from returning to prison and improves their future job prospects.”
Researchers found that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have a 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than those who do not. The estimate is based on studies that carefully account for motivation and other differences between correctional education recipients and non-recipients.
Employment after release was 13 percent higher among prisoners who participated in either academic or vocational education programs than those who did not. Those who participated in vocational training were 28 percent more likely to be employed after release from prison than who did not receive such training.
The findings also suggest that prison education programs are cost effective. The direct costs of providing education are estimated to be from $1,400 to $1,744 per inmate, with re-incarceration costs being $8,700 to $9,700 less for each inmate who received correctional education as compared to those who did not.
While the results consistently demonstrated the benefits of prison education programs, researchers say there is not yet enough evidence to determine which educational programs performed the best.
“Our findings suggest that we no longer need to debate whether correctional education works,” Davis said. “But we do need more research to tease out which parts of these programs work best.”
The study, which was supported by the U.S. departments of Justice and Education, should be of interest to corrections officials and state lawmakers as they cope with operating prisons during difficult budget times.
There long has been debate about the role prison-based education programs can play in preparing inmates to return to society and keeping them from returning to prison. Recidivism remains high nationally, with four in 10 inmates returning to prison within three years of release. While most states offer some type of correctional education, surveys find no more than half of inmates receive any instruction.
In general, people in U.S. prisons have less education than the general population. In 2004, 36 percent of individuals in state prisons had less than a high school diploma, compared to 19 percent of the general U.S. population older than 16.
In addition, ex-offenders frequently often lack vocational skills and a steady history of employment. Researchers say the dynamics of prison entry and re-entry to society make it hard for ex-offenders to find work and build an employment history.
RAND researchers conducted a comprehensive review of the scientific literature of research on correctional education and performed a meta-analysis to synthesize the findings from multiple studies about the effectiveness of correctional education programs. A meta-analysis is a comprehensive way of synthesizing findings from multiple studies to develop scientific consensus about the efficacy of a program or an intervention.
The analysis was limited to studies published about education programs in the United States that included an academic or vocational curriculum with a structured instructional component. The analysis focused on recidivism, but also examined whether education improved labor force participation and gains in academic achievement test scores. The study did not assess life skills programs.
Programs that offered instruction toward a high school diploma or general education development (GED) certificate were the most common approach. Studies that included adult basic education, high school diploma/GED, postsecondary education and vocational training all showed reductions in recidivism.
Because of overlaps in curriculum and a lack of detail about the duration of instruction, researchers could not determine what types of programs worked best.
Researchers also examined the relationship between computer-assisted instruction and academic performance, which is important in prisons because the technology allows self-paced learning that can be delivered at a lower cost than traditional instruction.
The study found some evidence that computer-assisted instruction further improved math and reading achievement among inmates, but the findings were not strong enough to reach a final conclusion.
“As corrections officials struggle to cope during a period of constrained government spending, prison education is an approach that may help save money in even the short term,” Davis said.
Funding for the study was provided by the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. Other authors of the study are Robert Bozick, Jennifer Steele, Jessica Saunders and Jeremy Miles.
The project was conducted within the RAND Safety and Justice Program, which conducts public policy research on corrections, policing, public safety and occupational safety.

Citation:

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults — 2013
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
• Save to My RAND
• Citation

• 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
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.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR266.html
In Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it, moi said:
People want an education for a variety of reasons. Some have a love of learning. Others want to attend a good college or vocational school. Still others, see an education as a ticket to a good job. Increasingly for schools, the goal is to prepare kids with the skills to attend and succeed at college. In order to give children the skills to succeed, schools need teachers who are effective at educating their population of kids. There are many themes in the attempt to answer the question, what will prepare kids for what comes after high school. What will prepare kids for what comes after high school is a good basic education. The schools that provide a good basic education are relentless about the basics.https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/who-says-black-children-cant-learn-some-schools-gets-it/

See:

Education Law Center
http://www.edlawcenter.org/ELCPublic/StudentRights/StudentDiscipline.htm

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?
http://www.eduguide.org/article/discipline-in-school-what-works-and-what-doesnt

Related:

A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/a-strategy-to-reduce-school-suspensions-school-wide-positive-behavior-support/

Single-sex classrooms should be allowed in public schools
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/single-sex-classrooms-should-be-allowed-in-public-schools/

Boys of color: Resources from the Boys Initiative
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/boys-of-color-resources-from-the-boys-initiative/

U.S. Education Dept. Civil Rights Office releases report on racial disparity in school retention
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/u-s-education-dept-civil-rights-office-releases-report-on-racial-disparity-in-school-retention/

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