Offenders are selected for enrollment in WSD programs based on the Individualized Treatment Plan (ITP) process. The ITP outlines programmatic activities and prioritizes participation in recommended programs based on the offender’s needs, program availability and projected release date.
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The Literacy Program provides adult basic education for offenders functioning below the sixth grade level, and secondary level adult education for those who are working toward attainment of a high school equivalency (GED) certificate. Based on individual achievement, students are assigned to beginning (Literacy I), intermediate (Literacy II), or advanced (Literacy III) level classes. Students needing help with basic reading skills may be enrolled in Literacy I–Reading. Literacy teachers use an interdisciplinary approach to promote work place competencies and learning in real-world contexts. Emphasis is placed on the skills employers demand, such as personal qualities, cultural sensitivity/tolerance, teamwork, decision-making and problem solving.
Special Education services are provided for eligible students with disabilities. An English as a Second Language (ESL) program is available for students with limited English proficiency.
The Career and Technology Education (CTE) program offers vocational training in approximately 34 occupational areas to prepare offenders for today’s workforce.
Additional vocational training opportunities may be available through apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training.
Life skills programs are available to help offenders learn to make better, pro-social decisions. The WSD Cognitive Intervention program is available at many units. This program addresses personal accountability and responsibility through instruction and exercises in interpersonal problem solving, anger management, impulse control, overcoming criminal thinking, creating positive attitudes and beliefs and goal setting.
Likewise, a reintegration program, entitled Changing Habits and Achieving New Goals to Empower Success (CHANGES), offers a life skills curriculum to prepare offenders for release.
CHANGES includes lessons targeting personal development, health relationships, living responsibly, drug education, health, putting together a new start and going home.
For offenders with a GED or high school diploma, academic and vocational post secondary educational opportunities are available through the department of Continuing Education which contracts with community colleges and universities.
Continuing Education has numerous programs to serve needs of offenders. Associate (two year) and Baccalaureate (four year) degrees are awarded upon completion of degree requirements. A certificate of completion is awarded after satisfactory completion of a vocational program. College credit may be awarded for vocational courses.
In order to participate in a college academic or vocational program, eligibility requirements set by the WSD, the TDCJ, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and admission and registration requirements of the college must be met by all students. College expenses utilizing state funds must be repaid by the offender upon release as a condition of parole.
Those offenders who do not qualify for state funds must pay college expenses at registration or qualify for grant funding.
The Incarcerated Individuals Program (IIP) Grant is not required to be repaid.
The IIP Grant replaced the Youthful Offender Grant on October 1, 2009, restricting offenders with certain offenses and increasing eligibility to include offenders less than 36 years of age and within seven years of the initial parole date. An offender who is assigned to a unit that does not offer the college academic program for which he qualifies may contact the current unit education staff to request a transfer to a unit that does offer the program.
The TDCJ State Classification Committee (SCC) will make all decisions on unit assignments. WSD strives to offer a comprehensive guidance program that assists the offender with vocational assessment and career guidance.
WSD is committed to providing a positive environment where offenders can improve their educational achievement. By taking advantage of the academic, life skills and vocational educational opportunities offered by WSD, offenders are better prepared to successfully reintegrate back into society.