Community College Pathway Equity and Currency

A growing number of Illinois high school districts are now offering students the opportunity to earn College and Career Pathway Endorsements. To help encourage learners to complete the rigorous requirements and earn an endorsement, 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.

Our Role

With support from The Joyce Foundation, in 2022, EdSystems launched a community of practice with Illinois community colleges and their high school partners to support new opportunities for students who earn College and Career Pathway Endorsements in high school. The primary goal is to create secondary and postsecondary collaborations whereby students awarded an endorsement will receive unique currency in the postsecondary space. That currency could come in the form of specialized access to financial support upon enrollment in a postsecondary program within their pathway endorsement sector, as added application points on a highly selective academic program application, or selective employment. Each collaboration’s key deliverable is to publish documentation of the postsecondary currency for endorsements by fall 2023 and to communicate that currency to secondary students within the regional high schools to encourage higher levels of implementation and participation.

The collaborations must also incorporate strategies to ensure equity, i.e., all students, especially those from underrepresented populations in participating communities, have access to information about pathway systems and receive the necessary support to participate in the pathway and attain College and Career Pathway Endorsements. Partnerships must use data to identify areas of need, collect data on impact, and document and communicate their results.

With student success at the center of this work, we have worked with project participants to create, finalize, and implement currency options. As of January 2024, the currency includes the following:

  • Sauk Valley Community College: High school students who earn College and Career Pathway Endorsements and take BIO 108 will receive additional application points toward admission into the Licensed Practical Nurse program, which has a selective admissions process. BIO 108 is considered a gateway course for the nursing program. The institution will provide extra support for students who enroll in this class to increase class persistence rates. These supports include an asynchronous How to Be Successful in Bio 108 mini-course, tutoring, access to office hours for BIO 108 during the summer, and a faculty mentor. In addition, the course cost, textbook, and lab manual for BIO 108 will be provided to students, with an estimated financial value of over $1,000. Paid tuition and book costs will alleviate financial barriers for low-income students and students who may not qualify for aid. (View Sauk Valley’s currency marketing.)
  • Shawnee Community College: District high school students who graduate with College and Career Pathway Endorsements in health sciences and technology will receive an incentive of ten extra points toward their entrance into the Practical Nursing program plus a waiver for TEAS test costs, a $70 value. The incentives encourage students to take these types of courses and help increase a student’s chances of being selected for a seat in the nursing program. (View Shawnee’s currency marketing.)
  • Kaskaskia College: Students earning College and Career Pathway Endorsements in agriculture will receive a one-credit tuition waiver upon enrollment, at a financial savings of $136. Given the region’s interest in education, manufacturing, and health science pathways, Kaskaskia is also exploring a similar tuition credit waiver for students who earn the endorsement in those pathway sectors. (View Kaskaskia’s currency marketing.)
  • Joliet Junior College: High school students who earn College and Career Pathway Endorsements in any pathway sector during the 2022–23 school year will receive a tuition waiver for one three-credit hour course. Students must enroll in at least six credit hours to be eligible for the tuition waiver, valued at approximately $500 per student. It is designed to decrease the cost of postsecondary enrollment for endorsement earners. (View Joliet Junior’s currency marketing.)
  • Illinois Valley Community College: Tuition waivers for one three-credit hour course will be awarded to up to 20 students who earn College and Career Pathway Endorsements in either health sciences and technology or manufacturing, engineering, technology, and trades. The tuition waiver has a financial value of approximately $400 for students, which will help decrease the economic costs of postsecondary enrollment for endorsement earners. This course is provided to students through a collaboration of Illinois Valley Community College and its foundation office. (View Illinois Valley’s currency marketing.)
  • Parkland Community College: College and Career Pathway Endorsements earners who also earn an industry-recognized credential in health sciences and technology — Certified Nurse Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, or Sterile Processing Technician  — while in high school will have the opportunity to receive guaranteed placement in the Nursing or Allied Health Pathway, which has a selective admissions process. Students working on completing the pathway endorsement in manufacturing, engineering, technology, and trades will gain priority placement toward at least one industry-recognized credential upon high school graduation, obtain part-time job/internship placement while in high school, and receive special consideration for a registered apprenticeship with manufacturing employers. (View Parkland’s currency marketing.)
  • Black Hawk College: Students who earn the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (in any pathway) will receive a $100 award and can apply to be a part of the college’s new College and Career Pathway Endorsement Program, which includes dynamic experiential learning and career-focused studies. (View Black Hawk’s currency marketing.)

Project Resources

Supported by

The Joyce Foundation

Interim Director of Pathways

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