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Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) integrates the teaching of basic skills and technical content in order to accelerate basic skills students’ transition into and through a college-level occupational field of study.

The study reported on here represents the final phase of a multi-year evaluation of the I-BEST model that began in 2009, conducted by CCRC in collaboration with MPR Associates and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Based on fieldwork undertaken in spring 2011 on 16 I-BEST programs at eight colleges, this report builds on CCRC’s earlier qualitative and quantitative research by seeking to understand those aspects of I-BEST that best support student learning, progression, and completion.

In addition, the report considers the I-BEST student experience and presents the results of a cost-benefit analysis of the program. The findings and recommendations highlighted in the report will be of interest to funders, policymakers, and practitioners in other states who are considering transition interventions similar to the I-BEST model.

John Wachen, Davis Jenkins, Clive Belfield, and Michelle Van Noy with Amanda Richards and Kristen Kulongoski
The Community Collge Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University

This report is a case study of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), and analyzes the key strategies and conditions that have led to the effectiveness of the Board as a coordinating agency over locally governed colleges. The study, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that three sets of factors -- state political and economic context, institutional design, and organization and leadership strategies -- explain the success of the Board. The report includes a self-assessment instrument intended for use by other states that seek to improve the effectiveness of their own postsecondary education coordination to better serve students and meet state needs. Click here for the self-assessment instrument.

Accelerating Opportunity states may find this especially useful in understanding the underlying characteristics that helped SBCTC take I-BEST to scale and identifying strategies to promote systems change.

Mary Kirlin and Nancy Shulock
Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy, California State University, Sacramento

Accelerating Opportunity online professional development opportunities include self-paced tutorials and courses facilitated by experienced specialists that are aimed at strengthening the skills needed to build an integrated basic skills career pathways model. The National College Transition Network (NCTN) at World Education, Inc. created these courses in collaboration with Jobs for the Future, Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), and Minnesota FastTRAC. For additional tools and resources, please visit Accelerating Opportunity's Virtual Academy.

Visit the website for information, including course descriptions, schedules, fees, and how to register. Please read the Online Course Policies for facilitated courses and the Minimum Technical Requirements information.

Courses Available:

  • Team Teaching - Models and Practice
  • Team Teaching an Integrated Curriculum to Accelerate Learning
  • Finding True North - Role of the Navigator 
  • Navigating Pathways to Opportunity 
  • Promoting Engagement - Role of the Administrator
  • Building Accelerating Opportunities Pathways


The National College Transition Network at World Education, Jobs for the Future, Washington State Board of Comunity and Technical Colleges, and Minnesota FastTRAC
The National College Transition Network at World Education

Over 200 people, including Accelerating Opportunity grantees and Breaking Through colleges, attended the first annual National Conference on Integrated Basic Skills Pathways. This website includes a number of materials developed for/shared at the meeting, including PowerPoint presentations and other resources.

Conference Objectives:

  • Introduce I-Best and Breaking Through models that integrate basic skills pathways.
  • Share I-BEST and Breaking Through models Washington SBCTC and other colleges have developed as core models for implementation.
  • Engage in provocative discussions around policy support and innovation to foster scale and sustainability.
  • Learn more about curricular alignment and other re-design aspects.
  • Build networks as 25 states come together as a field and learning community.
Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future

The application for I‑BEST program approval and other materials used by Washington’s colleges are available on the State Board for Community and Technical College web site.

Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges

This website, developed by Highline Community College for fellow I-BEST instructors and program designers, features a number of resources on program development, team teaching, curriculum design, and support services.

Highline Community College
Highline Community College

This guide describes how states can use data on community college students to conduct “tipping point” analyses of labor market outcomes. It specifies the data elements needed to complete a study and potential uses of the research.

Davis Jenkins
Community College Research Center, Teacher's College, Columbia University