Managing Director of Pathways & Operations
Senior Fellow, Project Lead ILDS 2.0

Analysis of College and Career Pathways

In Illinois, college and career pathways were jump-started with the 2016 passage of the Postsecondary & Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act, which defines the required components of a College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) and recognizes public high school graduates who complete a specific package of curricular and workplace experiences.

Since 2017, EdSystems has sought out districts willing to implement CCPE, with the Class of 2020 being the first class eligible to earn CCPE by law. For the Class of 2022, 36 districts awarded the endorsement to 596 graduates—nearly 13 times the number of endorsements awarded in the Class of 2021 (47 graduates). Due to legislation passed in 2022 (HB3296; Public Act 102-0917), all high school districts in Illinois are expected to offer CCPE in at least two career areas starting no later than 2025 or opt out by board decision. This will result in significant scaling in the coming years.

To understand the potential impact of CCPE, EdSystems is asking the following questions:

  1. Are pathways models in high school succeeding in accelerating students toward postsecondary credentials and promising careers?
  2. Are the pathways priorities identified by EdSystems and programs invested in by Illinois state agencies targeting credentials and career opportunities with a strong return on investment for learners?

Our Role

EdSystems is engaging in two pathways-related data and evaluation activities: a pathways evaluation framework and an ROI analysis framework.

Pathways Evaluation Framework

Building from our extensive work to establish an evaluation framework for education and health sciences pathways, we will design a new, generalized evaluation framework for all pathways models.

Currently, secondary pathways in Illinois are focused on two primary program models: Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs of study and the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) model, a default requirement for school districts to implement starting in 2025. There is no unified statewide framework to evaluate the characteristics and longitudinal progress metrics and outcomes of public school students enrolled in CCPE pathways. We will work with a group of trusted stakeholders to develop a framework to measure the impact the CCPE pathway models have on individuals’ ability to succeed toward a high-quality college degree or postsecondary credential.

The framework will surface deficiencies in infrastructure, data availability, and consistency necessary to evaluate pathway investment and long-term goals. To the extent possible, we will also analyze extant data to investigate the characteristics of pathway participants and completers and how they perform in postsecondary and beyond. This analysis will inform gaps and deficiencies in current pathway progressions that can be addressed through future policy revisions or technical assistance to implementing communities.

ROI Analysis Framework

The work on an ROI analysis framework will utilize emerging employment outcomes data published through the Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS), job growth information, and net credential price information from various sources to identify a framework for calculating a return on investment model for postsecondary credentials. This ROI model can be utilized to determine adjustments to priorities for pathways development and incorporated into tools and websites used for pathways planning and student advising. In addition, data will be collected and aggregated from public sources to determine the level of investment made into different program options. EdSystems will analyze emerging ROI and talent pipeline models and assess the available state data to develop a calculation for an Illinois-specific ROI model. In parallel, EdSystems will convene a working group of state agency partners and aligned policy organizations to inform the development of an Illinois-specific ROI model. EdSystems will perform pilot calculations of the Illinois-specific ROI model for stakeholder feedback and will establish, with the working group, a plan for broader dissemination and use of the model.

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