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Administering the Test of Adult Basic Education at Intake: A Biased Marker of Offender Ability

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 57 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 239-248
Jason E. Piccone
Date Published
September 2006
10 pages
This study assessed whether the scores on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) administered to all incoming inmates at intake in Virginia correctional facilities were different from the TABE scores obtained after inmates had been moved to a more permanent facility.
Results revealed that offenders’ TABE scores improved an average of 18.5 percent after they had been moved to permanent placement. The findings suggest that the stress that occurs when inmates first enter the correctional system (intake) impacts their performance on the TABE when it is administered at intake. As a result, many offenders may be assigned to correctional educational programming that is inappropriate for their actual abilities. Recommendations include the advice to continue using the TABE as an initial indicator of an inmate’s academic ability but not as a core element of an inmate’s educational plan. Data on TABE testing within the Commonwealth of Virginia were obtained from historical files within the Virginia Department of Correctional Education. Participants were 1,825 offenders who took the TABE test at intake and then again after permanent placement. Conditions of study inclusion were that less than a year had elapsed between the first and second testing and that no educational programming occurred between the first and second TABE testing. Data analysis included the use of mixed ANOVA and Tukey post hoc analyses. Followup studies should focus on why younger offenders and White offenders demonstrated the greatest improvement at the followup TABE testing. Tables, references


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