As we look back on 2021, we share a recap of our team’s efforts and note a number of great successes reflected in state-level data, including increasing dual credit enrollment and declining postsecondary remediation enrollment rates. However, as we celebrate the gains made we must also recognize the racial equity challenges present at both macro and micro levels in our education and workforce systems. That is why the EdSystems team is committed to advancing racial equity, a core value that guided our efforts in 2021 and will continue in 2022. Read our advancing racial equity update.

We remain hopeful that change is possible and is, indeed, happening here in Illinois. Thank you for partnering with us as we seek to strengthen connections between education and workforce systems to advance racial equity and prepare more young people for productive careers and lives in a global economy.

We believe that scaling and strengthening aligned pathway programs that lead to in-demand, high-quality occupations will increase education, economic, and social outcomes for Illinois young people.

Advancing Pathways

EdSystems released four new Model Programs of Study Guides this year in partnership with the Illinois Community College Board: Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources; Architecture, Construction, and Energy; Arts and Communications; and Finance and Business Services. Download the Guides.

We are now in the midst of a webinar series to share an overview of each Guide and provide insights into how Illinois community colleges are implementing the Model Programs in each focus area. Register for upcoming webinars and watch recordings.

To better understand how school districts are implementing pathways, we went on a listening tour with Chicago Public Schools and District 214, which we shared in our Systems Sessions podcastListen to the two-part series. Based in part on the districts’ work, we designed and released a School Readiness Framework & Tracker to support implementing college and career pathways. Download the Framework & Tracker.

We also engaged with a broad array of Chicago stakeholders to analyze and provide recommendations for middle-skills pathways in the Chicago regionLearn more.

In fall 2021, EdSystems was invited to partner in the Building Equitable Pathways initiative, a national coalition of leading intermediaries organized by national nonprofit JFF that aims to unlock more equitable postsecondary and career outcomes for Black and Latinx youth and young people who are experiencing poverty. Learn more.

Work-Based Learning

Building on the resources in our Career Development Experience Toolkit, we released a new Companion Piece specifically designed for youth-serving organizations outside of a traditional high school setting, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Download the Companion Piece.

To further equip work-based learning practitioners, the Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network (I-WIN) hosted a three-part summer workshop series for designing experiences along the WBL continuumView the recordings & download the resources. I-WIN’s 2021 Community of Practice sessions focused on advancing equity, data insights and models, engaging hosts/partners, implementing virtual experiences, and designing experiences specifically in education and health sciences. Visit the I-WIN Resource Hub.

Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI)

SEPI welcomed our third cohort of communities dedicated to building high-quality pathways into the education field, comprised of the Quad Cities Educator Partnership, Thornton Township High School District 205, and the Crete-Monee and Homewood-Flossmoor Educational Pathway Collaborative. New this year, two collaboratives from our first cohort Making Opportunities Real for Everyone (MORE) in the Mississippi and Rock River Regions and Southern Illinois Network for Future Teachers are serving as peer mentors to support the planning and early implementation efforts of the new cohort. Learn more about SEPI.

What difference is SEPI making in developing our teacher pipeline? We released our first analysis of SEPI, featuring input from the first cohort of collaboratives, in August. The analysis demonstrates how the components of the education pathway were being executed in practice and to collect promising practices and lessons learned. Download the report.

A number of postsecondary and scholarship organizations are collaborating with SEPI to offer incentives for students graduating with the Illinois College and Career Pathway Endorsement in Education, including Northern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Sauk Valley Community College, and Golden Apple Scholars. Learn more about currency.

While the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2020-2021 Report Card showed clear declines in learning for students across Illinois during the Covid-19 pandemic, we mark some causes for celebration: increasing dual credit enrollment and declining postsecondary remediation enrollment rates. Read more of our analysis on key measures.

We believe that through implementing strategic innovations through early college credit and transitional instruction, we can cultivate systems that will support students to succeed in an ever-evolving context. This includes our work in Transitional Instruction at the state level and supporting community networks including the Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum and the Illinois 60 by 25 Network.

Transitional Instruction

In early 2021, ISBE, ICCB, and IBHE adopted the Statewide Transitional English Course Parameters, Competencies, and Policies. The statewide competencies were developed by the Competency Development Group facilitated by EdSystems and consisting of high school and community college administrators and faculty together with State agency representatives. Learn more.

As more and more high schools across Illinois implement transitional instruction courses, there is a growing need to understand how to create and maintain an effective Local Advisory Panel (LAP). To that end, EdSystems developed a new LAP guide based on conversations with Transitional Math LAPs from across Illinois. Keep reading and download the guide.

Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum (CEIF)

In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, CEIF launched in spring 2021 to support innovative models for addressing systemic inequities such as student-centered personalized instruction, competency-based approaches, and performance assessments. CEIF has hosted two convenings to date: the spring kickoff focused on options for extended learning using competency concepts while the fall convening centered on incorporating adaptive competencies and social-emotional learning into the curriculum. Visit the CEIF Resource Hub for recordings and innovative resources.

Illinois 60 by 25 Network

The Illinois 60 by 25 Network welcomed two new leadership communities in 2021: Boone County and Black Hawk Region Pathways. These communities are driving meaningful and equitable postsecondary attainment through collaboration among secondary, postsecondary, and employer partners.

Working with the new Student Advisory Council also taught the EdSystems team valuable lessons in student engagement. Read our takeaways.

2021 marked our first-ever virtual conference, co-hosted with fellow Network Organizers Advance Illinois and ISAC. Building on the record turnout, the 2022 conference on February 28–March 3 will be 100% virtual and offered at no cost to attendees. Our theme is Equity First: Building Toward a Better Future and Revitalizing LearningRegister now.

We believe that strengthening state- and community-level data capacity and systems and delivering integrated data through tools specifically designed for practitioners, policymakers, and youth is essential to identifying and addressing equity challenges.

Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS)

EdSystems continues to support efforts to enhance the governance and technical systems of the ILDS, referred to as “ILDS 2.0.” Housed by the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology and using industry-leading technologies, the ILDS 2.0 analytical environment will enable more secure and efficient analysis of integrated ILDS data, with initial analyses slated for 2022.

In 2021, ILDS agencies and partners executed a new inter-governmental agreement, developed by EdSystems staff, that establishes an updated ILDS governance structure and chartered the first two ILDS 2.0 projects: the Early Childhood Participation Dataset and High School to College to Career Dataset. EdSystems then collaborated with ILDS agency staff to develop a new data access and use agreement template and unified data request process policy and procedures to reflect the system’s enhanced technical infrastructure.

Keep Reading

Kyle Westbrook Named Executive Director of EdSystems

Education Systems Center at NIU is pleased to announce the appointment of Kyle Westbrook as its new executive director. Kyle brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to educational equity, making him an excellent fit for the organization’s mission.

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Performance-Based Assessment Showcase

At the Performance-Based Assessment Design Cohort Showcase on May 18, 2023, we were able to hear the teachers talk about their projects and the process of creating them, and see up close how performance-based assessments can be used across disciplines and with students from a range of backgrounds with a variety of characteristics.

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Community College Pathway Equity and Currency

To help encourage learners to complete the rigorous requirements and earn the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) opportunity, as well as matriculate into postsecondary pathways, EdSystems is supporting the development of equity-centered strategies alongside incentives or currency that will help students and their families.

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