Commentary: Adult Basic Education Achieves High Pass Rate in Washington State Prisons
August 7, 2017
Department of Corrections
GED® test preparation class at Larch (Heather Williams, Larch Public Information Officer)
Increasing literacy in prisons is the foundation for improving the lives of incarcerated people. The Department of Corrections is achieving this objective. Providing education within the walls of prisons lowers recidivism, creates better behavior and increases employment rates after release.
Corrections partners with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Together we work with local colleges near prisons to deliver high-quality education programs including basic education, vocational training and academic degrees.
Year-end data for fiscal year 2017 shows local colleges serving prisons have achieved an excellent pass rate of 87 percent for incarcerated students that have completed all four tests, compared to 79 percent nationally.
Students in the prison education system earned 758 GED® test credentials in fiscal year 2017. That’s 214 more than last year, an improvement of 39 percent. Coyote Ridge Corrections Center had the highest increase in the actual number of GED® test credentials earned. Olympic Corrections Center had the largest percentage increase, at 107.
GED® AWARDED BY FACILITY – Fiscal Years (FY) 2016 & 2017
|Prison Facility||FY 2016||FY 2017||Growth||Percentage Change|
|Washington CC for Women||15||28||13||87%|
|Washington State Penitentiary||106||142||36||34%|
In 2014, the GED® requirement moved from a paper and pencil test to a computerized testing system. This created new challenges for the teachers and administrators of the program, but the results have been very positive. We’re extremely proud of the great work being done through our education partners in prisons. The colleges have really stepped up and met the challenges head on. Because of this, we have people releasing from prison who are better prepared to meet the challenges of returning to their communities to rebuild their lives.
The credit goes to staff and faculty at the eight colleges working inside prisons including: Walla Walla Community College, Edmonds Community College, Spokane Community College, Peninsula College, Grays Harbor College, Clark College, Centralia College, and Tacoma Community College.
Completing the GED® test is the ultimate goal of Adult Basic Education. Offering these programs in prisons certainly create a milestone and pathway to further education such as a vocational certificate or academic degree. However, the colleges have many students who will not achieve this credential, due to time constraints. It’s important to note many students in these programs see increases in literacy levels that can be related to advancement in grade level equivalency.
It is essential citizens of Washington understand an investment in inmate education translates to safer communities and a reduction in crime.