Cost–Benefit Analysis of the Windham School District’s Correctional CTE Program

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This study is an examination of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of correctional Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs administered by the Windham School District (WSD) within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The study focuses on offenders who took CTE courses in the 2014–2015 school year through the first half of the 2015–2016 school year and were subsequently released into their communities on parole. The measures of effectiveness included recidivism (measured as re-incarceration within TDCJ) and employment (measured as being employed for at least one day during the observation period). The study utilized a propensity score matched (PSM) control group. CTE program participants had higher employment rates and lower rates of recidivism than those in the control group. Program participation resulted in a net benefit of $1,067 per participant or $1.54 per dollar spent. This substantial net benefit occurred within a relatively short follow-up (1–2.5 years) and is expected to increase with longer follow-up periods. Correctional CTE programs in Texas are effective and worth the investment of public dollars. Further, cost–benefit analysis by cluster revealed that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Construction had a higher than average net benefit ($4,325) and, due to its short duration, could be a good CTE course for various incarceration settings, including jails.

cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness, vocational education, CTE, career education, corrections, offenders