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

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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. Quantitative analyses of the I-BEST model indicate that it is effective in improving educational outcomes, but few people in the larger higher education community outside of Washington's two-year colleges fully understand how I-BEST programs work. Therefore, this study examines how the 34 community and technical colleges in Washington State are implementing the I-BEST model and how I-BEST programs operate. Specifically, it addresses the following research questions: (1) How is I-BEST being implemented across Washington State's community and technical colleges? What elements and approaches are common across programs? What accounts for variations in approach and organization?; (2) What does I-BEST look like in the classroom? To what extent and in what ways are technical and basic skills instruction in I-BEST courses integrated?; (3) What is the nature of the I-BEST student population? How do students get into I-BEST programs? What support services do colleges offer I-BEST students?; and (4) What costs are involved in operating I-BEST programs? Are I-BEST programs sustainable financially? To answer these questions, the authors conducted telephone interviews with faculty, staff, and administrators involved with I-BEST at all 34 Washington State community and technical colleges. Overall, I-BEST is regarded an effective model for increasing the rate at which adult basic skills students enter and succeed in postsecondary occupational education. It is expensive to operate, and determining how to fund I-BEST programs is a major concern of the colleges. It is therefore not surprising that there was no consensus among the colleges about the sustainability of I-BEST, although they did agree that I-BEST has significant benefits. Thus, despite the challenges, Washington's State Board and its 34 community and technical colleges remain dedicated to the successful operation of I-BEST and have, laudably, devoted significant resources to its implementation and expansion. (Contains 6 tables, 4 figures and 13 footnotes.) [This paper was written with Kristen Kulongoski, Suma Kurien, Amanda Richards, Laurel Sipes, Madeline Weiss, and Matthew Zeidenberg.]

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Author:Wachen, John; Jenkins, Davis; Van Noy, Michelle
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U9WA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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