Integrated Instruction

The Washington State Basic Education for Adults (BEdA) system is committed to speeding the progress of students towards their goals as workers, family members and members of communities. Primary to this is improving student transition to post-secondary coursework, achievement of Tipping Point skills (45 college-level credits and a vocational credential) and further post-secondary success. In this pursuit, providers have instituted a variety of approaches to incorporate important contexts and content into the learning of basic skills.

Contextualized Instruction

Contextualized instruction uses a targeted context, such as career exploration, financial or health literacy, to learn skills in reading, writing, math, critical thinking and communication. Many providers have deliberate “pre-I-BEST” and “pre-vocational” courses that prepare students to be successful in the next step of their career and education pathways.

Coordinated Instruction

Basic skills instruction that is not only in a targeted context but is also coordinated with other courses (vocational or academic) so that the skills and information of the basic skills courses are provided in pace with what is needed in the courses. Examples include BEdA classes that support vocational program participation.In addition, some ground-breaking work of the Transitions Math Project has helped coordinate and align math across BEdA, Developmental Education and college credit level programs.

Integrated Instruction

Integrated instruction allows students to move further, faster towards their goals by simultaneously combining skill building in basic education and a particular context. In Washington state, the flagship program for integration is I-BEST (Integrated Basic and skills Training), which targets moving students to the Tipping Point of access to family wage jobs along a career pathway (see link to study below). Third party research has shown that this program model out-performs any other for moving students further and faster to college success and vocational credentials.

Teams of BEdA and vocational instructors work together to develop and deliver instruction, and assess student progress in both skill areas. Other examples of integrated instruction include Academic I-BEST and DevEd I-BEST. In these programs, basic skills and academic program faculty team teach courses that result in college level  credits for Professional Technical program or academic credits aligned with Direct Transfer Agreements with the four-year colleges and universities.  

Resources and Projects

The Washington State Adult Learning Standards, based on the EFF Content Standards, provide a framework for contextualizing and integrating content while ensuring that the depth and breadth of basic skills is incorporated. The Learning Standards indicators are a mandatory component for the development of student learning outcomes for SBCTC approved I-BEST programs.

LINCS Resources

Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) provides access to resources for contextualization of basic skills for (among other topics):

Transitions Math Project

The Transition Math Project (TMP) is an SBCTC collaborative project bringing together educators from K-12 schools, community and technical colleges, and baccalaureate institutions to help all students prepare and be ready for post-secondary, college-level math – both the fundamental and sophisticated skills needed for academic and career success in the 21st Century. The TMP website contains a variety of contextualized math curricula and other resources.


I-BEST pairs two instructors in the classroom – one to teach professional/technical or academic content and the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or English language – so students can move through school and into jobs faster. As students progress through the program, they learn basic skills in real-world scenarios offered by the college and career part of the curriculum. I-BEST challenges the traditional notion that students must complete all basic education before they can even start on a college or career pathway. This approach often discourages students because it takes more time, and the stand-alone basic skills classes do not qualify for college credit. I-BEST students start earning college credits immediately.

Research and Data Reports

The following reports can be found in the Research and Data: Research Reports section of the SBCTC Web site.

Community College Research Center (CCRC)

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