The Colorado Department of Corrections Division of Education provides comprehensive competency-based education programs for incarcerated individuals. These programs are evidence-based Academic, Social Science, Career and Technical Education, and post-secondary programs that prepare students to continue their post‐secondary education, either through college or Career Technical Education where they can further gain essential skills for entry-level employment in various fields.
These programs fall into five categories: HSE, CTE, Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS), Second Chance Pell, College, and Industry Based Education, leading to associate degrees or higher and industry certifications.
- High School Equivalency
The academic courses are designed to prepare individuals for their High School Equivalency (HSE). Academic HSE programming leading to an HSE diploma administered through numerous vendors such as GED and HISET. Courses are offered at all state and private facilities. Instruction for the HSE program is conducted through a student-focused approach with instructor lead classes, interactive peer mentoring, and self-guided computer-based learning platforms. Education currently utilizes Aztec and Essential Education HSE learning systems that students access via Chromebooks.
- Social and Behavioral Science (SBS)
Social and Behavioral Science (SBS) courses help individuals identify criminal thinking and behavioral patterns by dealing with societal and personal awareness. SBS curriculum consists of programming developed based on facility needs. SBS courses currently include Thinking for a Change, Moral Recognition Therapy, and Why Try.
- Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, offenders learn skills to obtain entry-level positions within several diverse career fields. In collaboration with the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), certificates are offered for Automotive, Business Fundamentals, Entrepreneurship, Estheticians, Hairstylists, Manicurists, Culinary Arts, Computer Information Systems, CISCO (A+ Plus and CCNET), Computer-Aided Drafting, Machining, Welding, Construction Technology, Wildland Fire, Environmental Services, Visual Communication, and Customer Service courses. The time it takes to complete a program certificate and receive college credit varies based on the course and the number of contacts hours. Several courses offer dual credits or certifications through the National Center for Construction Education Research (NCCER). The construction training courses offer college credit along with NCCER approved training, which is documented on a “blue card” provided to the offender. Additionally, the education program continues to operate CISCO Network Academies within ten facilities, along with A+ and CISCO Certified Entry Level Technician (CCENT).
- Apprenticeship Programs
Apprenticeship programs are offered through a collaboration between facilities and CCi to offer hands-on-training to earn certificates from the United States Department of Labor.
- Postsecondary Education and Industry Trade Training Programs
Postsecondary education and industry trade training programs offer classes and industry training opportunities to provide courses that lead to a degree and/or industry certificate programming. These offerings include Infrastructure Technician, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), CDOT Flagging, Hazardous Waste Certification, Health and Fitness, Human Services, Mobile Electrical and Mechanical labs, Veterinarian Technician, Ironworkers Training, Office Administration, Oil and Gas, Renewable Energy, OSHA Safety Specialists, Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and Business Processes.
- Second Chance Pell Program
The Second Chance Pell program offers an opportunity for colleges to partner with the Colorado Department of Correction. Participating schools can provide Federal Pell Grants to otherwise eligible students who are incarcerated in Federal or State penal institutions. It will allow incarcerated students the ability to earn a degree while serving their sentences.