If America is to regain its economic footing and compete on the global economic stage, then it is imperative that it significantly increase the rate of postsecondary education and credential attainment among a vast segment of the population that is under educated and untrained for 21st Century jobs. This challenge is even more pronounced in Mississippi (MS), where a significant number of residents lack a high school credential or the skills necessary for family-‐supporting careers.
The Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB), in collaboration with the state’s 15 community and junior colleges, seeks to address this challenge by scaling statewide an integrated career pathway initiative. Entitled the Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-‐BEST), this initiative targets primarily high school dropouts, low-‐income persons, and other non-‐traditional students and accelerates their transition from basic skills education to postsecondary programs of study. MI-‐BEST is premised on the highly successful, evidence-‐based Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-‐ BEST) model, launched in Washington (WA) state, that incorporates contextualized learning by concurrently delivering Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes using a team-‐teaching approach. The model holds promise for its effectiveness in increasing the rate of Adult Basic Education students entering into and succeeding in postsecondary education programs that ultimately lead to self-‐sufficient family wages. Through MI-‐BEST, Mississippi joins a growing number of states implementing best practices designed to recover and accelerate post secondary credential attainment among high school dropouts and other nontraditional students.
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