Teachers College, Columbia University

Washington State's Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST): New Evidence of Effectiveness

By Matthew Zeidenberg, Sung-Woo Cho & Davis Jenkins

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) developed the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, or I-BEST, to increase degree and credential attainment among basic skills students. In the I-BEST model, a basic skills instructor and an occupational instructor co-teach occupational courses with integrated basic skills content. Students receive college-level credit for the occupational coursework.

This study analyzed data from students enrolled in 2006–07 and 2007–08 and examined the impact of I-BEST on college credits earned, persistence to the second year, certificate or degree attainment, and gains on basic skills tests. It also examined change in wages and the change in hours worked after leaving the program.

The authors found that enrollment in I-BEST had positive impacts on all educational outcomes except persistence but no impact on the two labor market outcomes. I-BEST students were entering the labor market just as the economy was entering a recession, and future evaluations may reveal improved labor market outcomes.