How I-BEST Works: Findings from a Field Study of Washington State's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program

Wachen, John; Jenkins, Paul Davis; Van Noy, Michelle

Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) is an innovative program and strategy developed by the Washington (WA) State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) in conjunction with the state’s 29 community colleges and five technical colleges. Its goal is to increase the rate at which adult basic education and English-as-a-second-language students advance to college-level occupational programs and complete postsecondary credentials in fields offering good wages and career advancement. The promising results from preliminary analyses of I-BEST have generated interest in replication of the I-BEST model. Nationally, over 2.5 million students take adult basic skills courses at community colleges, high schools, and community organizations; only a fraction of these go on to pursue and earn college credentials. Despite the growing interest in I-BEST, not much is known outside Washington State about how the program works. This study, conducted by the Community College Research Center (CCRC), examines how I-BEST operates in Washington’s community and technical colleges. Researchers conducted telephone interviews with I-BEST faculty, staff, and administrators at all 34 colleges, and also observed I-BEST classes and interviewed faculty in-depth at four colleges. Overall, the 34 colleges agreed that I-BEST is an effective model for increasing the rate at which adult basic skills students enter and succeed in postsecondary occupational education. But it is expensive to operate, and determining how to fund its programs is a major concern. Not surprisingly, therefore, there was no consensus among the colleges about the sustainability of I-BEST, although they all acknowledged its significant benefits.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Community College Research Center
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
April 2, 2014