Inside CDCR Video, Rehabilitation

San Quentin earns first Distinguished School honor

Video by Kevin Gasser

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CDCR is committed to providing opportunities for academic growth during incarceration. The first-of-its-kind Distinguished Schools (DS) initiative was unveiled to recognize exemplary academic achievements within CDCR’s adult schools.

Of 12 CDCR schools that applied for this distinction, San Quentin State Prison’s Robert E. Burton Adult School (RBAS) has been selected based on its learning community and emphasis on teaching real-world academic and vocational skills to more than 1,180 incarcerated students.

Applicants were reviewed by an internal committee, which selected San Quentin for a site review by internal and external stakeholders, including the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Applicants were evaluated based on their performance in 10 areas acknowledged by federal and state leaders as essential elements of a great school: mission, communication, climate and culture, professional learning and collaboration, implementation of curriculum, instructional practices, student support, achievement data, budgets, and facilities.

The mission of RBAS is to create and foster a safe and rigorous education environment by which students can work collaboratively, think critically, and act independently with 21st century skills necessary to fully reintegrate into society.

This mission is particularly critical given San Quentin’s distinct population. Established in 1852, San Quentin is California’s oldest correctional institution. In addition to serving General Population students, students also come from the prison’s Reception Center for people newly arriving at state prison, and the state’s only Condemned Row for men.

Teachers employ multiple teaching strategies to provide maximum support, including large and small group instruction, one-on-one instruction and tutoring, computer-assisted instruction and partnerships with volunteers and student mentors.