Magazine article American Jails

Bexar County Jail Becomes First Jail in Texas to Certify

Magazine article American Jails

Bexar County Jail Becomes First Jail in Texas to Certify

Article excerpt

Thanks to an upgraded testing process, Bexar County has seen a marked increase in the number of inmates who pass the GED® exam.

Under Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part 2 mandates that the Texas Education Agency provide all adult Texans the opportunity to obtain literacy skills and an adult basic education. In compliance with this mandate, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office has been providing adult basic education to all those incarcerated and eligible to participate. What is not mandated by the Texas Administrative Code-but the Bexar County Sheriff's Office has been providing since 1985- is the opportunity for a candidate to test and attain a GED certificate.

Prior to the implementation of the Bexar County Sheriff's Pearson VUE® GED Testing Lab, the opportunity to test for the GED had been by collaboration with local education institutions that entered the Bexar County Detention Center to facilitate the GED exam every two months. The jail collaborated with Alamo Community College District and Northside Independent School District (NISD) to provide the test and test administrators, which resulted in delayed scheduling and the reporting of results for two to four weeks. It also did not contain the college-ready indicators that the new exam provides.

In 2008, the Jobs Council, the American Council on Education, GED Testing Services, and other stakeholders realized that the rigors of the GED test and curriculum were not meeting the requirements that today's employers and employees needed. With this, a deep overhaul of the GED test and curriculum was initiated in order to meet and exceed the academic skills the workforce requires. The exam was to align the curriculum with the common core requirements of the educational initiative of the United States, which details what kindergarten-12th grade students should know in English, language arts, and mathematics at the end of each grade. In the new test, writing is assessed in all subject areas. There are more written responses, and a rigorous score of above 145 in a 200-score scale is required to both pass the exam and to certify for a high school equivalency. The new GED testing process also takes two to three days for identification, testing, reporting, and awarding the GED certificate-a process that took two to three months with the previous testing. In 2012, the 2014 GED test was approved and was to be implemented in its titled year.

Even though correctional institutions and jails were granted an exemption from taking the newest GED test through the year of 2017 (with an approved waiver application), the Bexar County Jail's Education Services staff realized the need to provide the inmate population with the latest tools for educational success. …

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