More Inmates Earn GED Just Before the Test Changes

State Impact

By Michelle Kaku

The number of Ohio inmates earning their GED has risen the past three years, according to a new report.

But officials fear that progress could be halted by some of the new updates coming to the exam.

Data from the Correctional Institution Inspections Committee—the watchdog of Ohio’s prisons—shows   more than 2,100 inmates earned a GED in 2013.  That’s a 27 percent increase from 2010 when the achievement rate dropped, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

CIIC executive director Joanna Saul says inmates who complete a CED have better outcomes when they leave prison.

“Here’s something that clearly has an impact on recidivism,” she says. “It makes a big psychological impact that might encourage them to finish other goals in the future.”

Research from the Rand Corporation backs that up.  Inmates who participate in high school or GED education programs have 30 percent lower odds of returning to prison and a 13 percent higher chance of finding a job once they get out compared to their peers.

But as the GED test transitions from paper to a computer based format, Saul fears the changes might slow the state’s progress.

“Many inmates lack computer skills,” Saul says.

She adds that other changes coming—the more rigorous content and higher price—could also inhibit inmates from earning the certificate.