U.S. Labor Department Taps BCCC MI-BEST Training Model

Press Release
For Immediate Release       
February 22, 2013              

Contact: Bill Fleming

U.S. Labor Department Taps BCCC MI-BEST Training Model

BALTIMORE- BCCC has joined eight other community colleges in Maryland, Connecticut,Georgia, and Texas to lead a new Accelerating Connections to Employment (ACE)initiative, a 52-month project of the U.S. Department of Labor which willprovide training and job placement to 1,600 low-skilled adults. The project is funded by an $11.8 million DOL grant awarded to each of the four states.


In February 2011, BCCC, along with four other Maryland community colleges, sent constituents to Washington State to study a new Integrated Basic Education Skills Training (I-BEST) career pathway for low-skilled adults. There, an integrated skills and co-teaching model is embedded system-wide, having been demonstrated to be a successful strategy to accelerated completion of bothcredit and noncredit coursework. Maryland’s adaptation of this model, MI-BEST, combines basic skills/ESL and occupational skills training, accelerating the completion of coursework and certification and motivating students to learn otherwise abstract and irrelevant basic skills content.

Five major features of the MI-BEST model are practiced at BCCC:


1.Co-teaching allows the basic skills instructor to collaborate with theoccupational instructor for classroom presentation.


2.Integrated curricula embed basic skills content (ESL/GED prep) into vocational training.


3.Support services provide coaching for students through academic challenges and employment transition.


4.Career pathways are outlined for students as they prepare for the initial step in their certified career and pursue vocational training and advancement.


5.High-demand local jobs are the focus of carefully targeted training.


The first three MI-BEST cohorts prepared ESL/GED students for licensing as Certified Nursing Assistants. To provide the needed support as students prepare for the labor market, BCCC hired its first MI-BEST Coordinator, Ron Harrison Jr., in November 2012. Mr. Harrison has begun the College’s fourth cohort which will feature an additional career pathway – pharmacy technician. He coordinates with ESL and GED instructional specialists and the Workforce Development department to use the MI-BEST model to help students with basic skills deficits pursue recognized certified training in the health care field and beyond.


This spring, 12 students will participate in the new program. After an initial four weeks in Medical Terminology for the English Learner, students will be immersed in 80 hours of technical training and 40 hours of English language support. Afterward, they will complete 120 hours of clinical, on-the-job training under degreed pharmacists. Over the next two to three years, nine additional cohorts are planned, including Multi-skilled Medical Technician, Dietary Aide, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machinist, among other pathways. For more information, contact Ron Harrison at 410-986-5458 or rharrison@bccc.edu, or Meintje Westerbeek, Director of English Language Services, at 410-986-5455 or mwesterbeek@bccc.edu.