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Montgomery College One of Five Community Colleges to Receive $20,000 in Maryland Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST) Funds Tag-team Teaching Approach Emphasizes Accelerated Timeframe

Maryland Governor Martin T. O’Malley recently announced that the Maryland Workforce Corporation has awarded $100,000 in program funds under a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., to Montgomery College, Anne Arundel Community College, Baltimore City Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, Prince George’s Community College to develop Maryland Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST) programs – an accelerated approach to the instruction of skills training and workplace preparation. The innovative workforce grant is based on the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges’ I-BEST model of education which challenges the conventional notion that basic skills instruction must be completed by students prior to starting college-level courses.

MI-BEST’s goal is to speed up the rate at which Adult Basic Education and English-as-a-Second-Language students advance to college-level occupational programs; complete credentials of value in the labor market; and move into high-demand jobs offering good wages and opportunities for career advancement.  Additional objectives include:

  • Identifying educational pathway(s) that link to career pathway(s);
  • Providing traditionally underserved and academically challenged populations with integrated basic and occupational skills to succeed in the workforce;
  • Giving MI-BEST graduates the opportunity to fill job openings and/or preferential status for next program level;
  • Transitioning MI-BEST graduates into more college coursework, leading to further certificates and/or degrees; and
  • Giving local employers access to skilled workers (MI-BEST participants and/or graduates) to fill high-demand jobs paying at least $10 per hour.

“As a state committed to job creation and skills training programs, we know the value of competitive workforce. While the I-BEST educational model is a game-changer in terms of preparing adult learners for better paying jobs in a shorter period of time, it’s also a boon for Maryland employers in its potential to create a highly trained workforce. We’re grateful to the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Maryland Workforce Corporation for bringing this program and additional programs funds to Maryland,” noted Governor O’Malley. The MI-BEST participating community colleges, chosen following a Request for Application (RFA) process in December 2010 and an RFA review meeting in January 2011, include those Maryland community colleges with the highest number of enrolled Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Montgomery College will implement a Bilingual Office Assistant program as the first career pathway for this initiative.

In Phase 1 of the MI-BEST grant, each community college will assign basic skills instructors and career-technical faculty to jointly design and teach college-level occupational courses for adult basic skills students. Additional phases of the grant will involve Maryland state agencies, including the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

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