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GED Cheating Scheme Uncovered at Montana CoreCivic Prison

By Kaden Gicker

The academic testing program at Montana’s Crossroads Correctional Center (CCC) was “indefinitely suspended” after a test administrator was found helping prisoners cheat. The tests under suspicion were high school equivalency exams, and the allegations resulted in the wholesale shuttering of the program, HiSET, on April 13, 2022.

CCC, which hold 758 male prisoners, is operated for the state Department of Corrections (DOC) by private prison firm CoreCivic. The discovery, according to the state Office of Public Instruction (OPI), was made after a former prisoner at the facility reported witnessing test cheating, alleging administrators corrected answers to test questions and gave essay questions to prisoners to study in advance, along with other instances of cheating and plagiarism.

After the program was suspended, an investigation was opened by ETS, a private firm that administers the HiSET program for DOC. CoreCivic and its warden at CCC, Pete Bludworth, promised to cooperate in the inquiry. The company also said it would continue to provide educational programming to prisoners so that tests can resume once the program is restarted. But OPI said it was unclear whether the facility would be redesignated a testing site after the ETS investigation wraps up. OPI’s HiSET administrator informed CoreCivic that the state would need “identify appropriate actions steps after the investigation is concluded.”

It was also not clear how many prisoners would be affected by the program suspension. CoreCivic Director of Public Affairs Ryan Gustin counted one prisoner who still had a single test remaining to complete the program, but he said it was not easy to determine how many other prisoners would have been test-ready.

What is clear, according to DOC Communications Director Carolynn Bright, is that such educational services are essential to prisoners and the prison system. She noted that around “96 percent of all posted jobs require a high school diploma or equivalent,” adding that it was a matter of justice to provide prisoners with at least a high school equivalency education so that they can participate in the workforce after serving their time. Not doing so, she added, would undermine public health and safety as well as raising the risk of recidivism for prisoners denied the programming.

Source: Daily Montanan

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