Corrections Education and Reentry Coffee Break Summary and follow up questions.

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to recap the recent Corrections Education Coffee Talk. Our focus during the discussion was to explore how adult education programs were serving students during the COVID-19 crisis. The conversation was rich and covered a lot of ground. Some of the highlights are bulleted below: 

Homework Packets/Correspondence Courses:

  • Virginia began out correspondence packets and / or weekly workbooks to our students.
  • In our prison, we send two weeks’ worth of lessons along with a corresponding calendar to allow student to keep track.
  • Newsela is helpful to customize an article for different reading levels. You can pick the reading level--they usually have 4-5 lexile level versions with associated multiple choice questions.
  • We have themed cross curriculum packets that were divided by three levels ABE, Intermediate, and ASE levels.
  • I always provide opportunities (paper, pencil, inmate requests, etc) in my packets as a way to communicate with me and ask questions or present problems. Most of my packets have contained a letter signed by me updating the inmates on recent institutional developments and occasionally Covid-19 information, as well. This keeps inmates up to date and gives them accurate information to talk about rather than just inmate communication which is naturally undependable.

Web conferencing

  • Some programs are pivoting to Zoom and Google Classroom.
  • In DE, we're using correspondence-packets & Zoom sessions
  • Correspondence packets to most students; some have been able to have zoom instruction (in DE)
  • VA We are also broadcasting educational programming over the closed circuit television channel.
  • in MD we've been sending in packets since April (?). We're supposedly going to start working w/them via google meet soon, but that will be pretty limited

Offline Tablets

  • Deployment of offline laptops with education content. WA juvenile justice

Lingering Questions:

  • In PA we can only "count" hours students spend working if they are in certain approved texts. We have the ability to ask for a series to be approved. Has anyone identified pre-HSE or HSE texts that they feel are well-suited to student self-study supported by correspondence journals or logs.
  • Another topic I'd love to hear about: How are you assessing students to determine what material to send in to them? Have you developed your own informal assessments, or are you using something more formal? We have been told we will not have access to any technology for the foreseeable future, and many of the students we worked with before the shut-down are no longer in the facility so we'll be starting out with all new learners and will have to access them all.
  • Follow-up to those who are using packets: How are you (or ARE you) assessing whether students are able to take on independent learning? We struggle to get students to do homework associated with teacher- or tutor- directed classes, and do a lot of counseling to support them in being successful for the first time with their education. This takes a lot of interaction with our students, which we know we won't get when we restart services using a correspondence model.

I'd love to continue the discussion!

Kathy Tracey