Ascendium Distance Education in Prison Study

Man reading books at prison yard

Increasing access to education in prison is a critical policy goal for enhancing equity and workforce development. The reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for college students who are incarcerated takes effect in July 2023 and presents a tremendous opportunity to advance access to postsecondary coursework and eventual degree attainment for students who are incarcerated. While there has been increasing research on distance education quality and outcomes among students who are not in prison, there is a need to better understand how distance education addresses the needs of students who are incarcerated across their learner lifecycle.

Digital literacy and understanding how to navigate in a world filled with technology is integral to success after incarceration. 

AIR is conducting case studies of six distance and correspondence-based Prison Education Programs (PEPs) to examine implementation and outcomes relative to standards of quality and equity, with particular attention to programmatic and instructional practices. This AIR Distance Education in Prison research study will document which education technology vendors are offering services to the six participating program sites as well as describe what services they are providing.