Magazine article Techniques

Pilot Innovative Approaches to Funding

Magazine article Techniques

Pilot Innovative Approaches to Funding

Article excerpt

THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF A YEARLONG SERIES THAT WILL MORE CLOSELY EXAMINE THE RECOMMENDATIONS MADE IN ACTE'S POSTSECONDARY REFORM POSITION STATEMENT AND HIGHLIGHT BEST PRACTICES FOR IMPLEMENTING EACH OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS. TO ACCESS THE COMPLETE POSITION STATEMENT, VISIT WWW.ACTEONLINE. ORG/POLICY/LEGISLATIVE_ISSUES/POSTSECONDARY.CFM.

THE SEVENTH RECOMMENDATION IN ACTE'S POSTSECONDARY REFORM POSITION STATEMENT IS to pilot innovative approaches to funding. Public postsecondary providers are expected to fulfill a number of educational missions linked to separate funding streams, such as academic coursework, workforce education and training, distance education and research. These diverse missions host a variety of outcome expectations that can challenge those involved in directing the institution. Thoughtful consideration of how postsecondary finance policy can be improved across programs is necessary.

As education and policy leaders around the country examine demographic trends, learn more about the "skills gap" and strive to prepare students for the 21st century economy, postsecondary funding strategies are being examined as a tool for helping more students earn critical postsecondary credentials.

These innovative funding approaches include efforts to cover noncredit courses burin full-time equivalent (FTE) reimbursement to reduce the burden on institutions and students; to integrate categorical funding to enhance institutional ability to effectively deliver career-related credentials and meet diverse educational missions; to provide incentive funding based on course or program completion instead of enrollment; and to create performance expectations for students moving along the P-16 continuum.

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Integrating Programs to Better Serve Students

One pilot program related to postsecondary funding is the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) Program in Washington state. This program, developed by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges and launched in the spring of 2004, was designed "to provide educational access and support for adult basic education (ABE)/English as a Second Language (ESL) students to progress further and faster along career pathways." It helps often-underserved populations gain the skills necessary to earn a livable wage.

The program pairs ESL or ABE instructors with career and technical education (CTE) instructors in the classroom, so that they can provide students with basic education and high-demand workforce skills concurrently. This challenges the historical notion that students must progress through basic education before entering technical certificate or degree programs.

Instructors must collaborate to design a fully integrated curriculum covering basic skills and technical competencies. The instructor from the basic skills area and the instructor from the CTE program must then jointly instruct in the same classroom at least 50 percent of the time during the program.

To eliminate disincentives to this type of collaboration, the state uses a weighted funding model of 1.75 FTE per I-BEST student. This weighted funding is the result of the combination of funding streams for traditional for-credit coursework and for basic education programs. Before a program can be approved for weighted funding, local and regional labor market demand in the industry must be verified, and there must have been active involvement by employers and community partners in its development. These business and industry partners are expected to provide ongoing support for approved programs. Courses in I-BEST programs count toward future certificate and degree options, with no duplication of coursework required within the career pathway.

As of February 2008, there were 95 I-BEST programs offered at community and technical colleges around Washington. These programs were offered in diverse career areas, such as health care, technology, business, education and skilled trades. …

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