May 23, 2018

The Center for Education Data and Research, a research center at the School of Social Work, received more than $525,000 from the William T. Grant Foundation to study the value of prison-based education for youth incarcerated in Washington state. This work will fill in important gaps in the existing body of research.

More than half the prison population participates in educational programs to improve employment prospects and earnings once released from prison. Education has been shown to curtail the likelihood of re-offending, as well. But there is relatively little evidence about the employment benefits of prison-based education or which programs are more effective.

CEDR’s approach, under the direction of principal investigator Dan Goldhaber (pictured, right), has two goals: To study how educational programs impact post-release earnings and employment and to better understand which programs (whether basic skills training, specialized vocational education or postsecondary courses, for example) have the most impact on improving the life prospects of post-incarcerated youth. 

Results of the research will allow state corrections departments to implement the most effective interventions and will also enable policymakers to determine the best way to spend limited resources.

CEDR began working with the School several years ago when the group was collecting data on foster care for a project with the School-affiliated Partners for Our Children. “I see a real synergy between the work CEDR does and that of the School of Social Work,” said Goldhaber. “CEDR focuses on questions of educational opportunity, access and success through a quantitative lens, and, like the School of Social Work, is interested in learning about policies and interventions that help disadvantaged groups and change systems.”

CEDR was founded in 2010 to address the disconnect that often exists between research, policy and practice, focusing on the relationship between education and social service policies and practices. The group joined the School’s network of research centers last summer.