Illinois’ College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) system is a cornerstone strategy of the Postsecondary & Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act to increase the number of Illinois high school graduates prepared for postsecondary education and future careers. To earn an Endorsement on a high school transcript, a student must complete an individualized learning plan, engage in a career-focused instructional sequence (including early college credit), participate in work-based learning, and demonstrate readiness for college-level reading and math. Students earning the Endorsement will develop technical and essential employability competencies, earn in-demand credentials, and be prepared to launch rewarding careers.
Over the past several years, EdSystems and a national nonprofit, JFF, have worked with State agencies, employers, and other public and private stakeholders to identify essential employability and technical competencies for College and Career Pathway Endorsement areas.
In the spring of 2020, EdSystems sought out districts willing to commence implementation of the State’s College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) and continue over the next three years. Currently, EdSystems is steering a network of more than 73 school districts representing 107 high schools statewide (16% of Illinois high schools) that are implementing endorsement systems aligned to the PWR Act. This network provides a foundation for future scaling through continued alignment of funding, policy, and support at the State level.
Finally, EdSystems partnered with Southern Illinois University’s Center for Workforce Development to develop a web-based tool that communities are using to submit information on their local systems to ISBE per the PWR Act’s requirements. This tool requires communities to consider and document each aspect of their Endorsement system, and also provides an important inventory of pathways implementation across the State.
Creating Currency for the College and Career Pathway Endorsement
To help strengthen the teacher pipeline in Illinois, Northern Illinois University’s College of Education and EdSystems announced new incentives for Illinois students graduating with the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) in Education in February 2021. Starting immediately, admitted students with the endorsement are automatically advanced as finalists to receive select scholarships and to participate in the college’s innovative Educate and Engage program. This announcement makes NIU the first postsecondary institution in the state to offer currency to high school students for the CCPE.
In December 2020, EdSystems announced a similar partnership with Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, which is automatically advancing any applicants who have earned or are on track to earn the CCPE to the final stage of the application process. These new collaborations are designed to help attract high school students into the education pathway and increase college completion rates for these students.
Additionally, HB2170, also known as the Education Omnibus bill, includes an update to the Illinois’ Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship to offer funding to students graduating with any of the pathway endorsements (Article 120).