An Urban Institute evaluation of the Mississippi Integrated Basic Skills and Training (MIBEST) program suggests the potential promise of integrated education and training programs to improve the earnings of adult learners.
Led by the Mississippi Community College Board and implemented by the state’s community colleges, MIBEST offers adults without a high school credential and others with foundational skill needs contextual basic skills and technical instruction in high-demand career areas through concurrent enrollment in adult education and career and technical education. It also provides college and career navigation support, work readiness training, job placement services, and support services.
The Urban Institute studied the program’s implementation between 2016 and 2019 using a quasi-experimental design that compared the outcomes of MIBEST participants with those of adult education participants who had similar test scores, demographic characteristics, and work histories. Participants had very low earnings in the quarter before enrolling, an average of $1,296. One year after enrolling, however, MIBEST participants earned between $500 and $750 more per quarter, or $2,000 to $3,000 annually, than learners in the comparison group.
A cost-benefit analysis by the researchers found that the state and philanthropic investment to operate MIBEST was worthwhile: for every $1.00 invested in MIBEST, participants gained $2.02 in lifetime earnings.