Reports serve three primary functions. First, they are used for program management. Reports which monitor inmate needs for services can be used to allocate resources effectively. Second, reports are used for program accountability. By producing reports which document the number of inmates receiving services and the educational gains of those inmates, program administrators can demonstrate that they are providing services to those who need it. Finally, reports can be used for program evaluation. (The use of correctional education data systems for program evaluation is discussed in detail in Section 5.)
The most useful reports should be compact, concise summaries of relevant data that are designed so that a wide array of users, including those unfamiliar with correctional education programs, can intuitively identify and understand the information that is being displayed. The purpose of this section is to suggest different types of reports that correctional education programs might use and to present both sample formats and examples of reports currently being produced by correctional education programs.
There are several different types of reports that should be considered for any correctional education information system. These types of reports include:
State or Facility Level Reports These are reports that summarize pertinent information for all correctional education participants within a particular facility or jurisdictional area (state or county). They provide an overview of the key program performance indicators as well as relevant descriptive information. Because these reports summarize program information, they are of interest to a non-correctional education audience (institutional administrators, legislators who vote on funding). Examples of two different reports summarizing correctional education data at the facility level are presented in Exhibits 7 and 8.
Sample Facility Report: Correctional Education Profile
Correctional Education Profile
Facility Name:______________________ Date:________
Sample Facility Report: Student Performance Profile
Student Performance Profile
Facility Name: _________________ Date: _______
Percent Passing 1st Time:
Inmate Profiles The reports displayed in Exhibits 9 and 10 provide descriptions of program participants. They are very useful to instructors and program administrators. The intake profile (Exhibit 9) can be used by staff to assign an inmate to an appropriate program. The inmate program history (Exhibit 10) displays a record of the inmate's participation in correctional education. They are designed to provide concise one page summaries of different aspects of an individuals involvement in correctional education. Because inmates are frequently tested and test results sometimes determine program placement, there should be a separate report (Exhibit 11) which documents that inmate's test history (type of test, test date, test score).
Sample Facility Report: Intake Profile
Sample Facility Report: Inmate Program History
Inmate Program History
Name: _______________________________ Date: ____________
Currently Enrolled: Y/N
Sample Facility Report: Inmate Test
Inmate Test History
Name: ________________________________ Date: __________________
Rosters The most common type of roster produced by a data system is the class list (Exhibit 12) which includes the name of the class, the instructor, names of the participants, and the participant identifier. Other lists that could be produced include the student class listing (each class that the student is enrolled in), and a listing by program type (ESL, GED, vocational education). Like inmate profiles, these listings are used in the daily operation of correctional education programs.
Sample Facility Report: Class Roster
Class:_________________________ Instructor: __________________
Missing Data Report Many systems include reports that list data elements that should be entered into the system but are not, whatever the reason might be. These reports can be used by program administrators to remind system users to submit or enter data elements. This type of data management report is extremely valuable because it helps to insure that the data in the system are current, accurate, and available.
Appendix A contains actual reports that are currently produced by correctional education systems. The first report (Md School Performance Plan for Correctional Education), used by the state of Maryland, concentrates on describing the number of program participants. The student data, listed under School Student Profile, lists the total population for both the entire facility and the correctional education program. Other pertinent data, including the cost per student and the number of students on the waiting list, are also presented. After presenting student and staff totals by ethnicity, various types of student participation data are displayed.
Average daily attendance is listed, including the percentage of absences due to program closures. The latter category documents the amount of instructional time that is lost to institution "lockdowns." On page two of the report, student participation is also aggregated by program type and by different types of federally funded programs.
After presenting participation data, the report presents student performance data. The performance indicators include passing rates for the GED and the number of program completors for vocational courses. In summary, this report presents a broad array of data that can be easily understood and interpreted. In addition to describing the number of inmates that are receiving services, the report also displays information that is beneficial to the programs, including demand for services (number on the waiting list) and program achievements (passing rates, certificates awarded).
This report, which presents an overview of correctional education, is intended for distribution to a varied audience. There is an institutional letterhead on each page and the institution name is featured in bold in the top left hand corner. The various subject areas (School Staff Profile, School Student Profile, etc.) are also bolded, indented, and boxed so that the eye can quickly scan the page and locate the relevant information.
The second institutional-level profile is from the state of Pennsylvania. This two page report (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections - SCI Mercer Education Profile)presents non-correctional education data on the first page and educational data on the second or back page. The education data elements present the educational characteristics (grade completed, IQ, test scores) of the inmates. All test scores are converted to grade level categories. The report also presents the estimated educational and vocational needs of the inmates. Subject areas are boxed with the centered titles and the data lines are alternately shaded.
The third report is an inmate profile from the state of Maryland. Individual reports are generally used by personnel within the institution and do not have the wide audience of institutional-level reports. Nevertheless, subject areas are separated by bolded, centered, titles. These areas include Program Data, Program History, and Test History.
Tables Many data systems have reports that produce frequency listings or tables that cross tabulate two variables. Race and gender are two variables that are frequently cross tabulated with program enrollments, program completions, etc.
Filters Advanced reporting systems often have an option that allows the user to filter the records that are included in a report or listing. The user may stipulate that the report include, for example, only ESL students, or only students above the age of 21. Filters are a valuable tool for responding to ad hoc requests for information.
Custom Reports Another useful tool is the ability to manipulate data files and quickly design a new report that meets an ad hoc request for information. The ability to construct custom reports can be programmed into correctional education data systems. However, it is usually easier and less expensive to purchase menu-driven software packages that manipulate data files and produce user-specified reports. It should be noted that these packages, while user-friendly, require a minimal level of programming expertise.