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Evidence-based Practice: Contextualized or integrated basic skills instruction in occupational training


Contextualized or integrated basic skills instruction offers career and technical education (CTE) students the opportunity to develop the foundations in math, reading, and writing (“basic skills”) they need to be successful in occupational coursework and beyond. This type of instruction has had positive impacts on students’ credit accumulation and completion of an industry-recognized credential. Students entering career pathways have diverse educational and employment backgrounds, and some may need support to build these foundations. “Contextualization” refers to instruction that explicitly links basic skills to concrete applications in an occupation of interest to the student. In integrated basic skills instruction, basic skills are taught at the same time as occupational content, often by a team of instructors. For example, Washington State’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program, an effective model developed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, uses a team-teaching approach to provide job training and basic skills instruction in reading, math, or English as a second language in the same classes as part of a structured career pathway. Both instructional approaches can help close skill gaps and improve student motivation, allowing students to see how basic skills apply to job training and future employment.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

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