In the State of Illinois, the public and private sectors alike have been conducting a broad range of efforts pertaining to education, workforce development, and economic development with a focus on career pathways. Education and training programs and initiatives administered by various private, state, and local entities fall within this system. To better align career pathways efforts statewide, several state education and workforce committees, including an extensive base of stakeholders, have worked to define key terms across agencies, legal frameworks, and initiatives.
A first-of-its-kind resource, the Illinois Career Pathways Dictionary was first published in 2018 with the support of EdSystems. It includes the overarching state definition for career pathways and terms essential to career pathway programs and system elements. These definitions were developed and refined through research, stakeholder engagement, and thoughtful alignment to a variety of efforts—especially the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan, and the Illinois Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act. Representatives of key state entities and committees pertaining to Illinois’s broader education and workforce systems thoroughly reviewed each definition.
Since its launch, the dictionary has been shared extensively throughout Illinois via agency websites, word-of-mouth, professional development opportunities, and conferences and highlighted by multiple national partners as an innovative policy resource. Most importantly, it has been widely utilized by practitioners across Illinois to inform college and career pathway system implementation work.
Evolving best practices and the 2022 passage of Public Act 102-0917 (HB3296) established a need to revisit the dictionary and make updates. In 2022–23, EdSystems facilitated this process in collaboration with state agency partners. In August 2023, we re-released the updated version as a stand-alone website – pathwaysdictionary.org – which includes definitional updates, resource links, and implementation guidance. EdSystems continues to support the upkeeping of this valuable statewide resource.