Absence of conflict of interest
This study was conducted by staff from Abt Associates, which administers CLEAR. The review of this study was conducted by ICF Incorporated, which also administers CLEAR and is trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) on education outcomes. The authors investigated similar research questions for other programs, the profiles of which can be found here.
- The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of the I-BEST program on education outcomes. Using participant surveys and administrative records, the authors conducted a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment and control group members.
- The study found that I-BEST participants were significantly more likely than control participants to have earned one or more credential(s) and earned more credits.
- This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) and not to other factors.
Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST)
Features of the Intervention
Washington's State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) developed the I-BEST program in the 2004-05 school year. The goal of I-BEST is to offer structured career pathways to increase access to and completion of college-level occupational training in high-demand occupational areas for students who may otherwise have to complete remedial coursework. I-BEST offered one- to two-semester certificate programs in a range of in-demand employment sectors (e.g., welding, nursing assistant, and office skills certification). Participants earned credits for these courses, which also served as prerequisites for higher credential programs. Basic skills and occupational instruction were integrated through team teaching approaches, and the program also offered advising and financial support. I-BEST served adults with low occupational skills, many of whom also had low incomes.
Features of the Study
This study was part of the multi-program Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation. The PACE evaluation was intended to address the gap in research on the effectiveness of career pathways programs, or programs providing postsecondary training or education in growing employment sectors. This profile focuses on the I-BEST program.
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of I-BEST at three colleges in Washington State (Bellingham Technical College, Whatcom Community College, and Everett Community College). Of the 632 participants who enrolled in the study between November 2011 and September 2014, 315 were randomly assigned to the I-BEST program (treatment group) and 317 were assigned to the control group. Control group members could not receive I-BEST services but could choose to participate in other employment services within the community. The study sample was 58 percent female and just over half (55 percent) of participants identified as White, with 26 percent identifying as Hispanic/Latino and 8 percent identifying as Black/African American. Forty percent of the sample had a high school degree or equivalency credential without further education or training. The data for the credits earned and credential receipt outcomes were drawn from the PACE 18-month survey and administrative records. The authors used a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment group with those of the control group.
Education and skills gains
- The study found that 44 percent of treatment participants earned one or more credential(s), compared to 12 percent of control participants. This difference was statistically significant.
- The study also found that treatment participants earned an average of 24.3 credits by follow-up, compared to an average of 11.2 credits for control participants. This difference was statistically significant
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high, because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the I-BEST program, and not to other factors.