18 Holes of Golf - LINCS Course - 1st Hole

Welcome to our very first hole of golf on the new LINCS course. Yesterday we had a great practice round and special thanks to those who were able to attend. For those who need to loosen up before hitting the tee box, I will bring you up to speed. For the next 18 work days, I will be posting in this discussion group a "Hole" which consists of a topic of interest for adult educators, administrators, students, and others in the field of correctional and reentry education. Each Hole will ask for your suggestions, questions, resources, or comments in order to successfully move the ball from the tee box to the little round hole. Please feel free to share, add your comments or even thoughts on a "Hole" that you might like to see in the future. These holes, like in education, have challenges, hazards, and all come with a goal of helping our students become smarter and successful in life.

Now we are off to the first tee box:

Hole #1: Par 4 (Requires at least 4 posts/discussions - the more discussion threads the lower your score -lol)

Recently, Columbia Law School posted an article titled "Educational Requirements As Barriers to Release for Incarcerated People with Cognitive Disabilities", by Victoria Hay. The study recognized while the exact number of incarcerated individuals who have cognitive disabilities is unknown, partly because our systems do not effectively and consistently identify these individuals, the estimates range up to 19% of those behind our prison walls. Approximately 20% of those in prison and jail have self reported having a cognitive disability. 

In many states, a lack of educational attainment can prevent a person from obtaining parole, or if granted parole, can lead to their release being revoked. For example, in Michigan, people serving sentences of two or more years must obtain a high school diploma or equivalency before being released on parole. (This could be waived for people with learning disabilities, but what happens to those who are undiagnosed?)

For this hole, how can we do a better job identifying people with cognitive disabilities in our prison education systems and what changes can we make (or improve upon), to better support learners with cognitive disabilities.



Yes, I agree, I think the 1st step would require identifying the type of cognitive disabilities of the individual and place an induvial focus on that group. As I believe you noted yesterday, there are many people who have been assumed to have been unintelligent or to have some type of learning barrier (for lack of better term), but the fact of the matter is that, that person simply wasn’t skilled at test taking. So, I’d say the 1st step would be to identify the type of cognitive disabilities and " validate" it accordingly. 

How do we better identify and validate, I think we start with small survey, some simple, some more complexity? I think learning disabilities (per this example) in some cases are circumstantial, again referring the test taker above, but with a strategic variation of surveys, could potentially get us closer to identifying the type and managing from there.

Just thoughts to engage opinions and/ comments on this topic :) 


Thanks Shawn. That was a solid strike from the fairway onto the putting green. Surveying in order to understand and validate what might be needed would be a great first step. The assessment piece might be a worthy second as identifying the individuals with the difficulties might go a long way to beginning to support them in their journey.


This is a tough problem both inside and outside of our prison walls. OVR (Office of Vocational Rehab.) often has been helpful with people on the outside, but still usually takes several months for testing and diagnosis, and then still some come back with no learning disability diagnosis, but still have learning difficulties. As a teacher it usually becomes a guessing game. You see that certain learners need to be taught in a different way and you adjust and try things and hope something works. It definitely would be helpful to have a learning difficulties quick scan assessment that could maybe identify some of the most common learning disabilities and point us all to a starting point of helping adults until they can get more intense services. 

Hole #2 is a par 5 because this is a tough, long hole for many to play. Recently, Google announced their Career Readiness for Reentry: Curriculum Guide of Partner Organizations. This 16 page guide takes a look at job searching, everyday tasks, job readiness, online safety, and next steps. While far from comprehensive the messaging is clear, Google recognizes the need to do more when it comes to preparing individuals for reentry after incarceration. As in the game of golf, you often need to play the game one stroke at a time. 

There are many educational resources out there that help students prepare for a career pathway after prison and for this hole I hope you can share one or two to help us get closer to the hole. 

Looking forward to that next shot. 


Jeff A

Our DOCR (ND) education department recently contracted with a local financial advisor to write a series of three books on financial literacy, specifically aimed at re-entry and going on from there. They are available at Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Restart-Reform-Money-Institutional-Version/dp/B08HG7TVQK/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=kelly+fry+restart&qid=1628865850&sr=8-1). We use the first book in our Career Readiness class, which is required for anyone going on work release. Some of our facilities also teach a Financial Literacy workshop, but we don't currently have the staff time to do this here. My students have really appreciated book one in Career Readiness class. 

I'm pretty sure I sent the link for the non-North Dakota edition (ND edition includes state-specific contact information). 

Good read! Fair play to google, as this makes a lot of sense as the current narrative re those reentering society can be quite harsh in the corporate sector. I do believe that while there are many educational resources available and in place in facilities across the US, I do wonder if the question is how do we transition things such as google are doing into some of the current trainings prior to release making the transition for them easier (per certifications via e-learnings); hence making themselves more marketable for a career pathway after prison.  

I think we all would agree that trainings on vocational skills are important but if employers are not overly concerned about those skills versus the type of person they are hiring, then we still have a fundamental issue in sustaining career pathway after prison. 

So, while we continue to resource for educational resources, we should challenge the current model of preparation prior to release, to include trainings and deployments noted by google and beyond. Robert half, noted the best skills to add to your resume (in other words, what employers are looking for) is Computer skills, Leadership experience, Communication skills, Organizational know-how, People skills, Collaboration talent, Problem-solving abilities. 

As a hiring manager in my current role, I do look for the above to determine 1st can we build a working relation; hence if further trainings and developments are required upon hire, that would be a non-issue. Incarceration over vast periods of time, can dilute our consciousness of how we perceive how people respond to our respective personalities, some might consider passion (harsh) and reservation (weak); which could reduce the opportunity for that right career, therefore the above suggestion regarding the current model becomes more critical.  

I’d be interested in further exploring how to best approach this as well.  


I realize we're in a very small state (North Dakota), but for much longer than I've worked here, we have had instructors trained in offering WAIS and WJ tests, which have then been evaluated by our treatment department (however, we are in the process of contracting outside to speed up the time to receive them). We can use these for knowing how to help our students in the classroom, requesting GED Accommodations (including extra time, extra breaks, testing alone, using a reader, having a scribe), and knowing if/when to exit a student from education. A recent exit (for cognitive functioning reasons) was able to take and pass our welding program. We in the GED section let him know what was needed to help the student, and he was able to have his welding tutor work almost totally one on one with this student to help him pass the course. I also have another GED student with severe reading disabilities who has a reader for his GED test, and I literally read everything to him and work one on one with him in preparing for testing.

I understand larger states may not be able to do this, but it has worked for us. We know that at my facility (minimum custody), about 50% of the GED students have a cognitive or learning disability severe enough to interfere with learning.

(sorry Jeff, I realize I should have replied rather than posted a new message--and now I can't move it. :/ )

Hi. Welcome to the PAR 5 (This is a really tough and long hole). We know that those traveling through our justice systems have numerous barriers when returning from prison/jail. There are over 44,000 documented barriers for returning citizens and 70% of those relate to employment. But, how about the barriers to educational achievement and success? What barriers stand in the way for those trying to achieve their GED/HSE or go on to a post-secondary degree? 

This hole requires that you think about the educational barriers for advancement and consider some solutions, resources, or advice for educators and students. I can kick this off with a relatively straight drive onto the fairway when I list digital literacy and digital access as one of those barriers. While we have come a long way over the past several years, every person behind and beyond our prison walls should be given education on how to use a computer and access to a tablet/computer for educational purposes.

Looking forward to seeing you on the LINCS.

Jeff A

PAR 5 – interesting topic as this did require a level of deep diving to better understand the actual barrier when returning from prison/jail, that I believe is just merely not discussed enough. So how about the barriers to educational achievement and success and the barriers in the way for those trying to achieve their GED/HSE or go on to a post-secondary degree.  

According to study and an article from prisonpolicy.org “Educational exclusion and attainment among formerly incarcerated people” Getting Back on Course:  www.prisonpolicy.org Some of the greatest barriers to accessing higher education while incarcerated or after release from prison include: 

  1. In-prison college degree granting programs are still inaccessible for most incarcerated people.  

  1. People incarcerated in state and federal prisons, with limited exceptions, are ineligible for federal Pell Grants and federal student loans.   

  1. Many colleges and universities continue to include questions about criminal history on their applications.

  • Research has shown that the inclusion of criminal history questions on college applications deters would-be students from even completing the application process, and that applicants face discrimination based on criminal history.  

  1. Even when incarcerated people learn skills relevant to further education or occupational licenses in prison, license restrictions based on criminal history can invalidate their training.   

These barriers signal to formerly incarcerated people that they are unwelcome in institutions of higher learning, prevent their economic integration, and contribute to the revolving door of release and re-incarceration. 

They have also noted some thought worthy solutions below:  

  1. Educational opportunities should be conceptualized as a means to begin the reentry process, not as a frivolous “extra.”  

  • Ensure that incarcerated people have access to robust educational services that prepare them for both higher education and 21st century jobs.   
  1. Postsecondary educational institutions should give everyone a fair opportunity to pursue their educational goals, not further punish criminalized people looking to get their lives on track.  

  • States should immediately “ban-the-box” on all applications for admission to state funded colleges and universities. 

  1. Like public education, Pell Grants and other sources of student aid should be seen as public goods, available to everyone and enhancing both public safety and the social and economic mobility of all people. 

  • Restore Pell Grants to incarcerated people and remove other barriers to financial aid for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.   

Association of American Colleges & Universities (aacu.org), have gone further to say, what can higher education do to help incarcerated students?  

The New America report cited several steps that higher education institutions or public policy makers can take to improve educational access and attainment for incarcerated adults:  

  1. Provide more opportunities and choices for “quality postsecondary education and meaningful job training.”  

  1. When prisoners begin to prepare for reentry a year or two before their release, make education and training part of the process.  

  1. Make Second Chance Pell Grants available for all incarcerated students, without the current preference for students nearing release, as current practices may disproportionately affect certain demographic groups.  

  1. Ensure students are “not harmed by the unintended consequences of Second Chance Pell,” such as students possibly wasting federal aid that will be unavailable after their release. 

Resources to share for those recently incarcerated and actually actively looking for high education options, I would suggest the below link 


I thought we could use a simple hole that has a tricky green to get the ball in the cup. What is an Integrated Educational Training and is this being done inside of our prison walls? 

For those following the work of OCTAE this should be an easy hole, but the devil is always in the the detail. Before I share more about IET's in the corrections setting, please share what you can and resources that might be available to help use this incredible teaching method.


Jeff A

In Pennsylvania, we are very fortunate to have a state leadership project dedicated to IET this year. It will provide professional development and technical assistance to any Title II adult literacy provider that wants to explore the IET model. I know over the last 18 months with COVID, developing and implementing IETs has been a challenge, but I am optimistic that 2022 is going to see some great IETs developed and implemented all over the United States. 

From what I've found an IET (Integrated Educational Training) is a service approach that provides adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement (§463.35). 

Although I am not able to answer this definitively I.e., being incarcerated or an educational instructor, however, per my understanding of those currently incarcerated, I’d say if it is being done in prison, there’s is not enough demand on it, for the desired career driven affect upon release.  

I would go further to add that, what caught my attention regarding IET, based on the “course” we’re on, was the “Workforce Preparation Activities”. If in my opinion this was integrated into the current Educational Training model, per the cited mandates of actives to include in the program, I think it would add sustainable value.  

Workforce Preparation Activities - as cited in §463.34 are a required component of an IET program and may include the following:  

  1. Activities, programs, or services that are designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic skills, critical thinking, digital literacy, and self-management skills  
  2. Employability skills that address competencies in using resources and information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary to successfully transition to and complete postsecondary education, training, and employment  
  3. Other employability skills that increase an individual’s preparation for the workforce 

Source reference:  


I would like to see more comprehensive testing for potential learning disabilities in K-12. I think that diagnosing learning disabilities early may help prevent incidents of incarceration. From what I can see, there appears to be opportunity to improve the consistency of testing in K-12 in my great state of Alabama. It seems that the challenge is two-fold: a lack of proven, effective, and trusted testing options, and a lack of trained and resourced personnel to conduct the tests that are available. In our case, I don't think that money is a barrier as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Adult Education and Family Literacy Act seem to include appropriations for expanding the nation's capacity to implement programs that build our workforce; including the requisite testing to properly identify learner audiences and provide for those with documented disabilities. I don’t fully understand why we don’t have more capacity (skilled and resourced people) to test BEFORE crimes are committed optimally, but also when delivering instruction to an inmate population. Please help me understand what is available and how to access it more if you know.

I am really glad to find this discussion group!


HI. It's a beautiful day for another hole and this Par 4 is a bit tricky to navigate. The issue presented today is, "Does education behind our prison walls and continuing upon reentry reduce inmate misconduct and recidivism upon release?" 

It has bee recognized that taking just one course inside of our prison walls can reduce the chances of someone returning to prison after incarceration.


However, what are the other effects of offering a robust educational or training program behind the walls and upon release? In 2017 the American Society of Criminology recognized that upon completion of college classes or GED's behind the walls during an inmate's first year of incarceration can produce significant benefits in lowering violent misconduct. 

What do you think? Take your time and with each shot add a thought or resource.


Jeff A



This tough Par 4 hole will take you on a journey of what virtual learning behind our prison walls might look like in a perfect world. This difficult hole is filled with hazards (like prison security issues) and trees which often cover up where your ultimate goal, the little cup. Virtual learning requires computer centers and access to effective and appropriate content/learning platforms, video and audio capabilities, and of "course" a cost. There are many, many players entering this game and claiming to have the secrets to this hole and now I want to open the fairway up to all those with the solutions, or those currently using a tool or resource that could guide others. Prison cloud based systems exist, so why are we not using them? What are the barriers to accessing technology in prisons and how can we keep those struggling with digital literacy on course. 

I hope you will join me on this hole and share your thoughts and resources.

See you on the green.

Jeff A 

I thought we would end the week with an easy Friday Par Three that will leave you feeling like you just hit the best stroke of your life and now just need to tap the ball in for a birdie. The challenge today is to list three books that you would like to recommend to other adult learners, educators, or administrators in the field that could be impactful for them on a personal or professional level. 

As an avid reader this hole is really tough, but here go my three selections:

1- Think Again by Adam Grant

2- Change, How to Make Big Things Happen by Damon Centola

3- Untapped Talent - How Second Chance Hiring Works for Your Business and the Community by Jeffrey Korzenik

Bonus: Mr Peabody's Apple by Madonna (for children and adults)

Good luck and happy reading. 

Hi. Sorry, but yesterday's LINCS play was suspended due to inclement weather. We are however back on the course today and ready to take on the challenging Par 4 Hole involving Post Secondary Education for those who are incarcerated.

On this hole the Council on State Governments Justice Center issued a report from February 2020 titled "Laying the Groundwork: How States Can Improve Access to Continued Education for people in the Criminal Justice System". The report outlines four building blocks necessary to provide postsecondary education for individuals behind our prison walls. The four blocks are:

1- Funding - Uses key federal and state funding streams to support postsecondary education for people while incarcerated and after release.

2- Offerings - Offers incarcerated people access to a full range of postsecondary education programs aligned with local labor market trends and employer needs.

3- Lack of restrictions - Eliminates statutory and/or administrative restrictions that limit access to postsecondary education for individuals who are incarcerated.

4- Incentives and supports - Provides incentives, as well as tangible services and supports, to promote postsecondary participation and helps incarcerated people transition to a crime-free, productive life in the community.

The objective of this hole is to identify one item in each of the above categories and see if we get even close to the pin. As your caddie, you should know that not a single state in the United States has successfully met each of the targeted blocks as outlined. Good luck.

I will be back tomorrow with the details and an even trickier Hole #9. Hope you are enjoying the game and finding some time to relax this summer. 

Hi. Off to a late start today, but wanted to give you an easy (or maybe not so easy hole). It was been said that a person without data is just another person with an opinion. On this easy Par 3 hole, all you need to do is list a data resource that helps show the amazing work that you are doing in the correctional education space. (LINCS does not count).  

I will get the ball off the tee box: COABE - Educate and Elevate has data sheets which lay out data from all 50 states on student achievement in adult education. There are many a few great ones, and many studies that help us become better advocates for funding for correctional and reentry education funding. What is it that you use????

Good luck.

Jeff A


Hi. We made the turn for the final 9 holes and we are off with a challenge. The LINCS platform is an awesome resource and houses a Reentry Education Too Kit. There are 5 critical components identified in this tool kit for a successful reentry education program:

1- Program Infrastructure

2- Strategic Partnerships

3- Education Services

4- Transition Process

5- Sustainability

Thinking about these five components in relation to your program either behind or beyond the prison walls and as golf clubs in your bag, what are your strongest clubs you use and which ones need some work. This hole requires that you be honest as you move through the hole, think objectively and critically, and consider what you do well (good shot) and what you flub (need some work on).

It's summer so have fun with this and feel free to share your thoughts and ask for some advice from your caddie. (us)


Jeff A


This hole will be one of the most "testing" on the course. Men and women in the correctional and reentry settings often are able to learn the material which is being assigned, but struggle with the actual ability to take the exam. For this hole, please share 4 easy and simple tips/tricks for coaching students in the art of taking a test.

I can start this hole off. 

#1 - If you have absolutely no clue about a question and its' answer, don't spend much time on the question and move on to those you have mastered. Time is your enemy and you need to remain in control.

Hoping to see some awesome advice and enjoy your weekend.

Jeff A


Hi Jeffrey,  

Working my way back to the course, apologies for my lack of activity, the weather has been challenging on my end.  

However, I found a few concepts that I find might get us to the next hole. Site sources, noted below.  

  1. Work questions out of order. 

Spending too much time on the hardest problems means you may rush through the easiest. Instead of  working on questions in order, ask yourself whether a question is a Do NowLater, or Never

No need to agonize—this decision can be made very quickly: 

  1. NOW: Does a question look okay? Do you know how to do it? Do it now. 

  1. LATER: Will this question take a long time to work? Leave it and come back to it later. Circle the question number for easy reference. 

  1. NEVER: Know the topics that are your worst and learn the signs that flash danger. Don’t waste time on questions you should never do. Instead, use more time to answer the Now and Later questions accurately. 

Site: Tips and Tricks to Reach Your Target Score | The Princeton Review 


  • Use time wisely.  

  • Read all directions and questions carefully.  

  • Attempt every question but do the easy ones first.  

  • Actively reason through the questions.  

  • Choose the answer which the test maker intended.  

  • Anticipate the answer, then look for it 


  • Write no more than necessary.  

  • With sentence completion or fill-in questions, make sure your answers are grammatically correct.  

  • Make sure your response makes sense 

Site: test taking strategies (pstcc.edu) 

  1. Look for cues 

  • If two answers are similar, they're usually not the correct answer. 

  • Pay attention to grammatical matching between the question being asked and answers. If an answer seems right but doesn't match grammatically with the question, it probably isn't the correct answer. 

  • Look for cues from other questions 

Site: Study Skills: Effective Test Taking Strategies (educationcorner.com) 

Happy Studies! 


Hi. This easy par 3 hole doesn't take much skill, just a whole lot of thought. We travel through the course of life and as educators, instructors, and administrators dedicating ourselves to making students smarter and guide them towards a pathway of success. While we know there are many barriers faced along the way, over 44,000 which have been documented, this hole is all about what does it take for a student to be successful. On this short par 3 please give us 3 things that are common in students that persist and go on to complete an academic or skills training program. 

I can get us started off: 

1- Students who persist have a vision of what they want their future to look like. It might not be the clearest of pictures, but students who look forward and not back often move forward and not back.

Now let's hear from you as we head to the final holes and summer comes to a close.




Hole #13 is all about navigating and reducing barriers to school for individuals with juvenile records. This hole is based upon a recent study published March 2021 titled "Reducing Structural Barriers to School and Work for People with Juvenile Records", published by the Council of State Governments, Justice Center. The study was based upon a review of juvenile justice issues in 12 selected states across the country with a specific focus on education and employment. Not a single state in the study demonstrated a comprehensive approach to treating juvenile adjudications differently than criminal convictions. One of the major findings was that the majority of public and private postsecondary institutions and some employers in the studied states ask applicants about their criminal history and/or require a criminal background.

One of the affects of COVID19 will be the number of young adults who have walked away from their high schools and will be searching for alternative means to move forward. Working with our young adults will be vital as we recover form the pandemic and guide people to the career of their choosing.

For this hole, help us to put the ball in the hole by suggesting a way that educators and administrators can improve the way we work with our younger students and how we can assist them as they search for their next steps in life.


As a result of violent storms that struck our country over the past few days this Hole is dedicated to those that have been impacted. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your families and we wish you well. If you would like to share a story of inspiration for this hole please feel free, but for today we will prepare for our four final holes, which I promise will be challenging, and dedicate this hole to those who need our support. Jeff A