WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Higher percentages of incarcerated American adults scored at the lowest levels of proficiency in literacy and numeracy skills compared with the American household population, according to a new report on workplace skills released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The report—Highlights from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Training: Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies: 2014—is designed to provide policymakers, administrators, educators, and researchers with information to improve educational and training opportunities for incarcerated adults and foster skills they need to return to, and work successfully in, society upon release from prison.
"This new survey shows that the numeracy skills of incarcerated American adults are far weaker than the numeracy skills for American adults, on average," said Peggy G. Carr, acting commissioner of NCES, which conducted the study. "More than half of incarcerated adults lack the basic numeracy skills necessary for pursuing higher education, securing a job, or participating fully in society."
"Low skill levels can preclude successful reentry and present significant challenges for adults during their transition," Carr continued. "The average numeracy skills of incarcerated adults are lower than even those of the unemployed population in this country."
Average numeracy scores for adults in prisons were lower than adults not in prison and lower regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, age, native-born status, or educational attainment. Average literacy scores for incarcerated adults overall were also lower than those not in prison. But this did not hold true for every demographic group. When comparing Black and Hispanic adults in prison to those not in prison, the average literacy scores and the percentages scoring at the bottom performance level were not measurably different.
In addition to inmates' skills, the study also analyzed the work experience of prison inmates prior to their current incarceration, their work experiences during their current incarceration, the skills certifications they had earned, and the frequency and types of skills they used in their prison jobs.
The study found that around two-thirds (66 percent) of prison inmates reported that they were working prior to their incarceration. About half (49 percent) were employed full-time, 16 percent were working part-time, and the other 34 percent of incarcerated adults were not in the paid workforce. (19 percent were unemployed, with the remaining 16 percent reporting that they were either a student, permanently disabled, looking after family members, in retirement, or in other unspecified situations.)
The full report is available at http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. A part of the Institute of Education Sciences, NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.
The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a large-scale study of adult skills and life experience focusing on education and employment that was developed and organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD is an intergovernmental organization made up of highly industrialized member countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom.
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SOURCE The National Center for Education Statistics