Examines how the 34 community and technical colleges in Washington State are implementing the I-BEST model and how I-BEST programs operate.

“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" (p.2). 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? 

(4) What costs are involved in operating I-BEST programs? Are I-BEST programs sustainable financially?" (p.6).

"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" (p.6).

 "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” (p.28). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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


Major Findings & Recommendations

"CCRC [Community College Research Center] quantitative analysis report demonstrated that I-BEST students were much more likely to complete occupational certificates than were other basic skills students, including those who took at least one college-level occupational course on their own" (p.6). CCRC's companion paper reported more recent quantitative analysis showed I-BEST students had superior educational outcomes compared with other basic skills students who took at least one college-level occupational course. Evidence demonstrated that these effects were causal, not merely correlational (p.6). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)