Adult Basic Education
(ABE) I, II, and III

ABE I, II, III are educational programs offered by the Office of Correctional Education (OCE) for offenders with reading skills below the ninth grade level. These programs are targeted to serve the academic needs of the offender population. ABE provides opportunities for acquiring academic skills through an emphasis on English Language Arts and Mathematics.

The Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) assessment is used to determine the initial placement of each offender into an appropriate ABE level. Classes are designed specifically for incarcerated adult students and are taught by teachers with current and valid credentials from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Teachers provide students with interactive, engaging, relevant, and high interest instruction aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards.

ABE is divided into class levels I, II, and III:

  • ABE I class is intended for students who scored between 0.0 and 3.9 on the reading portion of the TABE assessment.
  • ABE II is intended for students with a reading score between 4.0 and 6.9.
  • ABE III is intended for students with reading scores between 7.0 and 8.9.

To advance or promote from one level to the next, students must show competence of the College and Career Readiness Standards and/or achievement of an applicable TABE score. As students matriculate through the ABE program levels, classes become more rigorous and an increase in the depths of knowledge is expanded. Classes are designed to prepare the students for entry into a High School Equivalency program or a High School Diploma Program as pre-requisites are met.

ABE programs are available to all offenders through class assignments made during the Classification Committee process as well as through a Voluntary Education Program that includes individualized instruction through tutorial support. In complying with penal code 2053.1 (1): "The department shall offer academic programming throughout an inmate's incarceration that shall focus on increasing the reading ability of an inmate to at least a 9th grade level."

Click [ HERE ] for printable information on ABE.


All institutions


Assignments and enrollments into this program are considered open entry/open exit. Students progress at their own pace, reflecting their effort and desire to learn.


The TABE and Correctional Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) assessments are required for placement into educational programs. Priority is given to offenders determined to have a criminogenic need.


Offenders are placed in the appropriate ABE class level according to their TABE reading score.

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Rehabilitative programs are the best way for an offender to be prepared for success upon release. The link below explains this process with an easy-to-follow diagram

See Rehabilitative Process

See Technology Solutions for more information.

Technology has opened the door to more educational opportunities while simultaneously reducing government spending. Below is a list of technology initiatives at CDCR.