Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-Best)
Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) pairs English as a second language (ESL)/adult basic education (ABE) instructors and professional-technical instructors in the same classroom to concurrently provide low-skilled adults with both the academic and workforce skills needed to complete a professional technical certificate, earn college-level credits towards a degree, and secure a livable wage job in a high demand field. Pierce College's I-BEST programs provide just the right level of basic education in just the right amount for students to succeed in workforce training. The basic skills curriculum is tailored to the skills and academic knowledge that is needed in order for students to learn and do the job for which he or she is training. In addition, the college-level credits and the academic skills acquired while in the I-BEST programs lay the groundwork for students who continue on in training or who come back for additional training after they go to work.
The Pierce District has embraced this rigorous model and made substantial use of assessment and Basic Skills Educational Interview classes to advise and support the I-BEST students throughout all of the programs. Using the basic skills instructor in the dual role of academic support instructor and Educational Interview advisor has resulted in increased student persistence and retention rates in these rigorous programs. Pierce's I-BEST programs have shifted basic skills education from the traditional focus of primarily teaching ESL, ABE, and GED in the context of increasing a student's basic skills levels in a very general way to teaching students how to learn the academic skills and college study skills within the context of (and along with) workforce education in the student's chosen occupation. The workforce education content provides the context for learning, practicing and mastering the basic skills needed. Instead, the I-BEST approach focuses on work with the specific basic skills competencies needed for a student to be successful in college-level classes and employment.
Pierce's Certified Nursing Assistant Certificate Program, Corrections/Protection Officers & Corrections Careers Certificate Program, Early Childhood Education Certificate Program, and Integrated Business Technology Certificate I-BEST programs are based on currently approved professional-technical programs. These extend to at least one year of college-level training and/or a college certificate and incorporate employment stop-in and stop-out (exit) points as part of an approved professional-technical certificate or associate degree program, or result in immediate high wage employment. As approved I-BEST programs, they are a part of the college's training inventory as a program option. College credits for I-BEST are transcripted when they are earned and count toward the longer program credential or otherwise meet a program requirement common to all students.
Pierce's I-BEST programs follow rigorous guidelines. In particular, assessment is a critical part of I-BEST for recruitment, progress-monitoring and post testing. The assessments assist I-BEST staffs in counseling students. This process includes identifying and planning for each student's next steps increase academic skills that are essential when they go to work and when they continue further along with their education and training.
The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges has recognized that the traditional FTE calculation for colleges' reimbursement of state funding does not meet I-BEST's needs. The Board recognizes that the I-Best instructional method is more expensive and rigorous, requiring two instructors in each class. Because of this high cost of instruction, I-BEST approved courses produce FTE at a 1.75 rate.
Mission Statement (Draft):
Open to all Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Education Development (GED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) adult learners, we are a supportive community that promotes respect for cultural diversity. Our purpose is to provide quality academic and workforce skills training and teaching excellence so that adult learners may:
- Earn a college certificate that prepares them to work in a high demand career;
- Increase their academic skills while earning college-level credits applicable to a college degree;
- Design a career pathway that provides meaningful mileposts and real destinations;
- Increase their abilities and opportunities for advancement in their chosen career;
- Build a bridge to the future through a commitment to life-long learning.