Since 2006, secondary and postsecondary education leaders in the greater Elgin region have been collaborating to build and expand proven programs that foster college and career readiness. Community College District 509, Northern Kane County Regional Vocational System (EFE 110), and school districts 300, 301, 303, and U-46 formed the Alliance for College Readiness to develop college and career pathways systems to align high school and college CTE curriculum and increase college and career readiness among students.
In 2019, the Alliance engaged EdSystems to provide strategic counsel and support. While various Alliance partners had programs in place to expand work-based and experiential learning opportunities, the region had no clearly defined continuum of activities or a regional strategy for coordinating and scaling them. Alliance partners also saw a valuable opportunity to align their pathways to the new College and Career Pathway Endorsement system and the State’s new Perkins V plan. To move the region forward, the Alliance needed both subject experts and skilled facilitators to bring the partners together.
Governance and Data
Early in the engagement, EdSystems led the Alliance through a Leadership and Governance Self-Assessment to gather information on executive and operational structures; shared vision, commitment, and accountability; and work-based learning delivery systems. EdSystems first co-developed the self-assessment through the Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Project (GLCCPP) and has successfully deployed it in other Illinois Education and Career Success Network Leadership Communities. This self-assessment process engaged leadership representatives and staff involved with the day-to-day management of all of the Alliance partnership organizations. As a neutral facilitator, the EdSystems team led in-person meetings to identify key steps for solidifying leadership and governance structures/processes, reach consensus on the leads and intermediary functions for this work, as well as flag and explore areas that require a deeper collective dive. EdSystems then worked with the Alliance members to comprehensively rewrite their intergovernmental governance agreement reflecting the consensus of the members.
Further, EdSystems worked closely with the Alliance team to identify a set of key secondary, postsecondary, and work-based learning metrics to monitor success at a system level. The EdSystems team supported the Alliance to develop plans for how their shared data will be collected, reported, and reviewed collaboratively.
Mapping and Implementing Strategic College and Career Pathways
Following the Model Programs of Study Guides, EdSystems supported the Alliance to map regional College and Career Pathway Endorsement frameworks in Business & Financial Services and Information Technology Endorsement areas. Secondary to postsecondary sequences were designed at both the regional and district levels and the Alliance is commencing pathways in Health Sciences and Manufacturing/Engineering.
Defining and Scaling a Work-Based Learning Continuum
EdSystems guided the Alliance through defining a work-based learning continuum aligned with State policies and definitions, then recommended quality criteria for the various experiences and helped to develop a strategy for scaling throughout the region. This included supporting district partners to inventory current work-based learning offerings through a survey developed by EdSystems, aligning district work-based activities with the defined Illinois continuum, mapping the processes for students to participate in work-based learning experiences, and making recommendations to ensure experiences meet the needs of both students and partners.