Since 2017, EdSystems has sought out districts willing to implement College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) as defined in the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act. Due to HB3296, which passed in 2022, the number of school districts implementing the endorsement framework is increasing exponentially. To support statewide scaling, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has drafted a set of administrative rules for implementing CCPE that will be open for public comment in subsequent board meetings. 

Significant College and Career Pathway Endorsements Growth for the Class of 2023

In October 2023, ISBE released the following information regarding CCPE earners:

  • 1,072 total students earned endorsements from 39 school districts. This is a nearly 80% increase in CCPE graduates over the Class of 2022 (36 districts endorsed 596 students). 
  • 222 school districts statewide are currently updating their pathway plans with ISBE out of an estimated 488 districts serving grades 9–12. This means about 45% of the districts in Illinois with high schools are now officially moving forward with endorsements.
  • Endorsements were earned in all pathway areas, including multidisciplinary.

The growth reflects ISBE’s commitment to and implementation of the CCPE and is a win for other ongoing initiatives in the state. For example:

These data suggest that investment in school districts and within certain industry sectors can accelerate pathway interest and completion among Illinois students. If you need support to authorize your CCPE application, please check the ISBE CCPE website.

New Rules for CCPE Implementation Drafted, Public Comment Begins

In their September meeting, ISBE requested that the board approve the publication of new rules regarding CCPE implementation. The proposed rules and definitions, drafted in consultation with the Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and appropriate stakeholders, will be published in the Illinois Register to elicit public comment at a future board meeting.  

We applaud many aspects of ISBE’s direction for CCPE implementation, including:

  • Codification of the ways a student can be deemed college-ready in math and English by aligning to the broader requirements of the College and Career Readiness Indicator, which is slated for implementation using data from school year 2024–25. This includes allowing students to demonstrate academic readiness by successfully completing transitional instruction coursework or other readiness measures identified by the partnering postsecondary institution (e.g., SAT score, grade point average threshold, or specific passing grades in English or math courses).
  • Allowing for career exploration activities that count towards the endorsement requirements to happen in grades 6–12. Incentivizing districts to begin offering career awareness and career exploration activities to earlier grades helps students make more informed decisions about pathway selection and has the potential to increase pathway completion rates. This also aligns with HB3296’s push to draw the Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework down to the sixth grade level.
  • Broadening who can serve as an adult mentor for team-based challenges. This is a big win in the proposed rules because high schools could potentially collaborate with local colleges, universities, community-based organizations, etc., in addition to a typical employer partner, which will enable more districts to broaden their pool of mentors who can offer diverse perspectives, without compromising the quality of student’s experiences.
  • Flexibility in how career development experiences can be carried out—including the use of a virtual or hybrid work environment, direct employment by the school district or other municipal partners, and 20-hour micro-internships that can be combined with other career development experiences to fulfill the 60-hour requirement of the CCPE. This aligns with principles put forth in the Illinois Career Pathways Dictionary and the spirit of the PWR legislation’s “authentic work experience”.
  • Inclusion of rules describing requirements for a multidisciplinary endorsement for students that change career pathways during high school while still meeting the individualized plan, professional learning, and academic readiness requirements. This creates an opportunity for districts to support and recognize students who may pivot in their college and career pathway interests but are completing the component parts of the CCPE and developing cross-cutting essential employability skills.

While we seek to further analyze terms such as “intensive career exploration” and the courses eligible for College and Career Pathway Endorsements, the draft rules, together with the rapid expansion of the CCPE earners, point to a significant level of momentum in Illinois regarding college and career pathways.   

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