Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

Name of Community College

This is a description of programs run throughout the publically funded 34 community and technical colleges (CTC) in Washington state, supported by and coordinated through the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). This overview is submitted by the SBCTC/Adult Basic Education Office, Israel Mendoza, Director.

 Title of Program
I-BEST – Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training

Type of Program

Basic Skills Education (which includes ABE/GED and ESL) with occupational education and work focus. Some ESL students transition into ABE classes and are thereafter counted as ABE students.

Primary Division(s) or Department(s) involved:

Basic Skills Education and Workforce Development departments at the colleges, and at SBCTC.

1.  Need for Program

We know that basic skill gains are critical stepping stones to better jobs and better lives, but in and of themselves they are not enough to provide access to family wage jobs – what we refer to as the Tipping Point of self- sufficiency. We also know that very few Basic Skills students transition to college level occupational training or college-level academic education that can get them on the track to achieving Tipping Point level skills. The traditional sequential process of passing through all the Basic Skills levels first, then getting into college level programs is years too long for most people whose needs are more immediate and pressing, and who are often working 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. The initiative was created to get more Basic Skills level people into college level occupational programs, faster and better, and get them on Career Pathways with a future. See  report at:    http://www.sbctc.ctc.edu/docs/data/research_reports/resh_06-2_tipping_point.pdf

2.  Brief Description of Program
I-BEST challenges the traditional notion that Basic Skills adults need years of remediation before being introduced to and enabled to master college level It also challenged traditional approaches to training content, delivery and support by pulling Basic Skills and vocational skills faculty together with Student Services staff to work as a team for the success of students who previously were on the margins of academic achievement.

The program integrates basic academic skills and specific occupational skills leading to specific occupations for which there is a current and pressing need in the labor market. An I-BEST program is part of a Career and Educational Pathway and aims to enable students to achieve at least one year of academic credit and industry recognized occupational certification, and continue on for skill and wage progression. The training not only prepares adults for an immediate job but also for re-entering the Career and Educational Pathway without further remediation. Components of the program are:

  • Integrated Learning outcomes where both academic and vocational skill achievement are equally
  • Basic Skills and Vocational instructor teams that design, plan and deliver the instruction together, overlapping in the classroom for at least 50% of the
  • Employer involvement in the development of the program to ensure it meets their criteria for completer
  • Institutional support within the college, as well as community support for the success of the
  • Comprehensive wrap-around student services for recruitment, retention and
  • Development and updating of Individual Transitions Plans that guide the students along their chosen Career and Educational Pathway

3. Specific Population Served

About half of the adults served are listed as ESL students, from both urban and rural settings, usually from the Federal Educational Functioning Level 3 and above (of the 6 Functioning Levels designated by WIA Title II). As noted above, some students who started in ESL levels transition into ABE level classes and are counted thereafter as ABE students.

4. Goals and Objectives

Goals Mechanisms to support and measure
Recruitment To ensure that students are well-prepared for the program. ABE and ESL students have equal access to the program. Applications describe recruitment processes and criteria, often carried out in coordination with other agencies in the community. CTC data is tracked and analyzed.
Retention Program participants complete the program. Applications describe retention strategies, and often include Retention Specialists who keep in touch with students throughout the program to address barriers, as well as continuous goal- setting and monitoring processes. CTC data is monitored to assess successes and issues.
Academic Progress and College Level Credits Students make significant gains in basic academic skills (ABE or ESL). Students earn the targeted number of college credits described in the plan, with a system emphasis on earning at least 15 college level credits (part of WA state’s Student Achievement Initiative), and/or passing college level math courses. Measured through CASAS testing. Applications identify the classes in which college credits will be earned, as well as strategies for getting the students to these accomplishments (e.g. integrated learning outcomes, team teaching strategies, etc.). CTC data is monitored to assess successes and issues.
Credentials All I-BEST students will earn industry recognized vocational credentials. Necessary credentials are identified in the applications, along with industry representatives who have given support to the program and may include both academic and vocational certifications. CTC data is monitored to assess successes and issues.
Employment I-BEST completers will gain employment in the occupation for which they trained. Unemployment Insurance data match.
Pathway re- entry I-BEST completers will return for training in the next step in their Career Pathway education. CTC system data match.
Wage progression I-BEST completers will improve their ability to earn income, either in dollars or number of jobs that they need in order to make the dollars. Unemployment Insurance data match.

5. Outcomes

Pilot outcomes showed that program participants earned 5 times more college level credit and were 15 times  more likely to complete Workforce training than control groups. More recently, a third party assessment by CCRC (Community College Research Center) identified that “I‐BEST students earned, on average, an estimated 52 quarter‐term college credits, compared to an average of 34 quarter‐term credits for the matched comparison group. I‐BEST students had a higher probability of persisting into the second year: 78 percent, compared to 61 percent for the matched group. The chances of earning an occupational certificate was 55 percent for I‐BEST students, compared with only 15 percent for the matched group. I‐BEST students also had a higher likelihood of making point gains on the CASAS basic skills test: 62 percent compared with 45 percent for the matched group.” CCRC’s next study will include employment outcomes. See report at: http://www.sbctc.ctc.edu/college/abepds/multivariateanalysis_workingpaper16_may2009.pdf

6.   Collaboration

Internal and external collaboration has been critical to the success of this program. See below.

Internal partnerships External  partnerships
Executive  Administration
Basic Skills and Workforce Education administration and faculty
Student Services
Institutional directives
Participation in planning, development and delivery
Support for financial aid, student counseling and retention efforts.
Workforce  development agencies (labor exchange, TANF, WIA Title I, etc.)
Cultural and community organizations
Recruitment, tuition assistance, support services
Recruitment and support services
Program development input, student internships and interviews, staff presentations,  materials and equipment

7.   Success Factors

  • Providing introductory workshops that described models and their pros and cons, and demonstrated what integrated instruction looks
  • Supporting a thorough planning process identified with Pilot programs (providing Planning Conferences with resource people and application documents that highlight the most critical planning elements).
  • Providing on-going Technical Assistance and training to help Basic Skills and Vocational instructor teams to develop integrated learning outcomes, addressing team teaching issues and preparation elements, providing examples of integrated instructional materials, g. contextualized math modules.
  • Sharing data regarding successes and issues of this program with staff and
  • Support from our governor and legislature, as well as from other state and national entities, has helped keep the momentum going

8.   Challenges Faced and Overcome

Initially, faculty from both Basic Skills and Workforce Development found the program challenging, from re- developing their instructional materials to re-thinking how they teach. Early adapters nevertheless found the results exciting and the opportunity to broaden and refine their craft personally rewarding. They have done much to help others find their way.

Institutional barriers had to be addressed, regarding how financial aid could be made available, how to code, cost and how to count students. The success and creativity of the early pilots motivated systems to review their processes and create new ones that could sustain this new instructional model.

Finding opportunities for adults at the lower Functioning Levels (1-2) to benefit from this kind of educational innovation. Few I-BEST programs are geared to meet their needs at present. We would like to find formats/occupations that work for this population either as I-BEST programs or as “ramps” up to I-BEST programs that again, move people further, faster and better.

9.   Funding and Sustainability

Initially, the pilot program was financed through Leadership Funds from WIA Title II and Perkins. The pilot lasted 3 years. At the end of this time, the Executive Board of SBCTC granted the agency leadership the authority to allow colleges to count each I-BEST student at a rate of 1.75 FTE rate to help cover the costs of 50% classroom overlap of instructors and additional student service costs. In addition, the State Legislature allocated additional FTEs to the college system specifically for I-BEST students at a higher per FTE rate, which was equivalent to 1.75 FTE.

Despite the recession (which necessitated a 10% cut to the CTC system) and system-wide over-enrollment caused by increased demand (which makes the 1.75 FTE moot), the colleges have remained committed to I- BEST and increased enrollment both in PY 2008-09 and in the first two quarters of this year.

Other Resources:

Washington’s SBCTC I-BEST website:  http://www.sbctc.ctc.edu/college/e_integratedbasiceducationandskillstraining.aspx

  • I-BEST Application
  • I-BEST Program Summaries – January 2009 – includes local program contact information
  • I-BEST Fact Sheet
  • I-BEST Resources – including research, publications, videos, and samples of materials from

Also on this website is the NEW pilot program Request for Applications (WA State community and technical colleges only) for moving I-BEST students further, faster and better through the next step in their Career Pathways, from Developmental Education forward:

  • I-BEST Academic Pilot Application

By the end of February, we will have additional I-BEST program materials located the college’s system’s 11 Centers of Excellence websites for various occupations. http://www.sbctc.ctc.edu/college/_e-wkforcecentersofexcellence.aspx. Available at the specific websites will be:

  • Approved I-BEST Plans (includes responses to application questions as part of planning, samples of Integrated Learning Outcomes, Career Pathways graphics, ) – from the range of Washington state community and technical colleges that have the same vocational I-BEST programs.
  • Sample syllabi
  • Sample lesson plans
  • General contact names and information

For more information, please contact: Kristin Ockert

SBCTC Policy Associate for Adult Basic Education and I-BEST team member, Email kockert@sbctc.edu or Phone 360-704-4361.