CNM’s I-BEST Programs Help Students Finish Trade Courses Faster

July 24, 2013 -- CNM’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training programs (I-BEST) are for students like Abraham Salazar and Everett Baxter, both studying electrical trades at CNM but who also need some basic education.
July 16, 2015

“I-BEST helped me by letting me get in the electrical trades program sooner than I would have otherwise,” said Salazar.

And Baxter noted that it has given him “skills to move further toward my goals.”

They are among the 257 students at CNM who have participated in I-BEST, a program that pairs a basic education instructor with a career-technical instructor to help students get the basic skills they need in math, reading or English at the same time they work to complete a certificate program. IBEST programs currently offered at CNM are Electrical Trades, Welding and Early Childhood Multicultural Education.

The idea of I-BEST is to give students the skills they need so they can move out of low-income and low-skilled jobs into high-skill, high-wage jobs. In the programs the instructors team teach with introductory classes overlapping at least 50 percent of the time.

“The students learn basic skills, like math or English, in the context of the trade they are studying. They are very motivated because they understand how the basic education ties into their trade. It’s not abstract. I am impressed by the engagement level of students,” said Carol Culver, director of CNM’s Adult Basic Education program.

Culver added that I-BEST welding classes are paired with basic math and reading courses, and the electrical trades has a focus on basic math education. Early childhood participants, not only learn about child care but also English as a Second Language. Most of the people in this course of study are non-native English speakers and are already working in daycare centers.

I-BEST, which started in fall 2012, is funded through a three-year, $2.7 million Department of Labor grant that is shared by eight New Mexico community colleges, all part of a consortium, Skill Up Network (SUN). Consortium partners are CNM, Santa Fe Community College, Eastern New Mexico University -- Ruidoso, Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell, Mesalands Community College, Doña Ana Community College, University of New Mexico – Taos and the University of New Mexico – Valencia. Six of the colleges have I-BEST programs, some with different areas of study. For example, Mesalands offers an I-BEST  program in Farrier Science – horseshoeing – which is a need in that rural community.

Culver said courses of study selected for I-BEST are chosen according careers matched with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions projections on job availability.

I-BEST is only one component of the Labor Department’s grant. The money is also being used to make distance learning more available and to develop programs that give college credit for prior learning on the job. CNM is developing programs in both these areas.

I-BEST Programs

Welding – CNM offers a certificate program in welding with 37 credits. Two of the first-term courses, Welding Blueprint Reading and Welding Math, are offered with I-BEST support.

Electrical Trades – CNM offers a certificate program in Residential Wiring with 28 credits. Two of the first-term courses, Electrical Trades Math and Electrical Trades Theory, are offered with I-BEST basic skills support.

Early Childhood Multicultural Education (ECME) – CNM offers an 11-credit-hour certificate program in Child Development. Completing the certificate can lead to a Child Development Certificate from the New Mexico Office of Child Development. Students completing the certificate can continue to CNM’s AA Degree program in Early Childhood Multicultural Education. The Early Childhood classes are offered in Spanish, and the initial course is supported with English as a Second Language instruction through the I-BEST program.

The first day of class for fall 2013 is Aug. 26 for all three areas.