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Can a Workplace Credentialing Program Improve Inmate Literacy?

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 65 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2014 Pages: 59-83
Martha A. Brown; Steve J. Rios
Date Published
May 2014
25 pages
This study determined the impact of the Florida Ready to Work (FLRTW) program - a computer-based workplace credentialing program - on learning gains in reading, language, and math, as measured by the Test of Adult Basic Education.
The findings show that the 53 male inmates residing in a private, therapeutic work release center achieved larger than average grade-level increases that ranged from 3.1 to 3.5, with no moderating impact from the independent variables of race, age, sentence length, and prior incarcerations. Workplace credentialing was developed in 2006 during a project overseen by the National Institute for Literacy. Workplace credentialing produces a uniform certificate that indicates a worker's proficiency in reading, applied mathematics, locating information, decisionmaking, and communications. It is meant to complement, not replace, a high school diploma or a GED certificate. FLRTW is built on Worldwide Interactive Network Career Readiness courseware that builds skills in applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information. It contains an assessment component that allows participants to earn a gold, silver, or bronze workplace credential signed by the governor. In order to qualify for participation in this study, participants scored below 9.0 in any of the three subject areas addressed in the FLRTW, had to complete the FLRTW program, and had to take the posttest. A professional from the local school district center for adult learning worked closely with the men, monitoring their progress and helping them identify areas needing improvement. Also, college graduates worked in the computer lab as inmate tutors. This network of support facilitated participants' commitment to learning gains. 7 tables and 36 references