Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Fall 2017 Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST) Health Care Assistant class has earned its place in history as the first class of its kind in Mississippi to achieve a 100 percent pass rate on both their state board certification exams and high school equivalency tests (HSEs). “We are extremely proud of them,” said Elizabeth Kairit, MI-Best coordinator.
Kairit said that the students were taking a full load of 15 college hours, including clinical rotations and at least four hours a week of Adult Education classes to prepare for their HSE.
The class was very diverse, according to Rachelle Washington, MI-BEST Student Navigator. “We had a class of 19 females ranging in ages from 18-46 and coming from Tate, Panola, Marshall and DeSoto counties and even one who came from Calhoun City every day. She had perfect attendance, and that shows you the level of determination this class had,” Washington said.
The MI-BEST program, which is funded by the Department of Labor and the W.F. Kellogg’s Foundation, is open to Mississippi residents aged 18 and older who have not earned a high school diploma.
According to Kairit, potential students are referred to her office after they take the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) and are assessed at a high enough level. “If they score high enough, we contact them and if they are interested in the program, they come in for an interview,” Kairit said. She explained that students are drug tested at the beginning and randomly throughout their classes. They also have a mandatory orientation session.
“This class had a strong group of students. When they met in orientation, you could just sense the excitement and they instantly bonded with each other. When we first went and met with them in class, I challenged them to be the first group with a 100 percent pass rate,” Kairit said.
At Northwest, MI-BEST students can choose college classes in manufacturing or health care. According to Kairit, there are 12 seats for the manufacturing pathway, and 20 for health care. Upon completion of the MI-BEST program, in order to achieve the Mississippi Competency Based HSE, students will have achieved Silver level of the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) 15 hours of college credit, the Smart Start credential and an industry-recognized credential. They will be TABE-tested again at the completion of the program and will have to earn an Educational Functioning Level (EFL) 5/6 level on the test. The MI-BEST program is free to students.
Kairit said that in this class, eight of the students scored gold and 11 scored silver on the NCRC. All of the students are certified in CPR and have earned the Smart Start credential.
Since the students have completed the program, 15 of the 19 are working in the health care field, two are working outside of their field, and two are returning to school. “We encourage them to make the best decision based on their own family circumstances, but I would say that at least 50 percent of our students continue their education in some way. If they have to go to work, we get them connected with the WIN Job Center to try and help them find a job,” Washington said.
Both Kairit and Washington stated that they are actively recruiting students for the Fall 2018 semester for both the health care assistant and manufacturing technology programs.
“We owe a big debt to the WIN Job Center folks and to our Adult Education instructors here at Northwest. We are lucky to have a great team here at Northwest. Our instructors go above and beyond to help students be successful,” Washington added.