Growing the SEPI Community and Expanding Access to Education Pathways

Illinois, like many other states, faces a teacher shortage that is particularly acute in rural and urban classrooms. The state’s teaching ranks also lack needed diversity, as the teacher workforce is 85-percent white, even as mounting research shows students of color benefit from having teachers of color. To address these challenges, the Illinois P-20 Council, The Joyce Foundation, and Education Systems Center at NIU (EdSystems) partnered in May 2019 to launch Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI).

EdSystems is excited to announce that we are continuing to scale this initiative and have brought on an additional six collaboratives to be funded through SEPI, representing 16 school districts, 25 high schools, and 12 colleges/universities throughout the state:

A map of Illinois highlighting SEPI communities in both cohorts.

These collaboratives were selected because of their commitment to developing a pipeline of teaching candidates that represent the diversity of their community. As a community of practice, collaboratives will share strategies to ensure equity, i.e. that all students, especially those from underrepresented populations and with limited social capital, in participating school districts have access to information about the Education Pathway program and receive the necessary supports to participate in and progress through the pathway.

All community collaboratives include a school district or collaboration of school districts, one community college or four-year institution offering dual credit/enrollment coursework associated with the Education Pathway program, and one accredited teacher preparation program where students are likely to continue their preparation and pathway after high school. 

A primary focus of SEPI is the implementation of the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) requirements for Education Pathways, which include early college credits, transitional instruction, and work-based learning in addition to traditional coursework. These requirements ensure high school students in the Education Pathway will graduate better prepared for postsecondary academic work, particularly within education degree programs. This preparedness supports students in completing an education degree program and pursuing a career as a teacher. The CCPE is gaining currency in Illinois: Students who earn a CCPE in Education and apply to the Golden Apple Scholarship will automatically advance to the final stage of the application process (learn more).

The newest SEPI collaboratives participated in their first community of practice on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, and all were able to make a connection with someone new! We look forward to learning together with our new collaboratives as we continue to ensure that students across Illinois have access to robust Education pathways.

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