In partnership with XQ Institute and Student Achievement Partners, in 2022 EdSystems launched an initiative to create an Illinois high school math badging system as an alternative credentialing mechanism wherein students can certify learning gained through a broad range of sources, including coursework, independent study, summer school, and work-based learning. This initiative builds on and integrates with other work EdSystems is undertaking to advance racial equity by prioritizing eliminating disparities in education and employment outcomes for young people from underserved and underrepresented populations.
While math remediation rates in Illinois are dropping, remediation courses remain a significant barrier to postsecondary success, particularly for underserved Black and Latinx students. Likewise, data on math-intensive bachelor’s degree programs demonstrate massive equity gaps, which can be attributed to the lack of a strong math background. Employers and programs often cite math readiness as a major barrier to success in middle-skill roles.
Meeting students where they are to support their individualized college and career goals is key to addressing barriers. Badging can support stronger alignment to the math needed for secondary, postsecondary, and career success than can course titles and can ensure that students demonstrate knowledge in a way that course grades cannot. Badging can promote opportunities to develop and reinforce math knowledge and skills, and validate learning outside of the classroom through integration into work-based learning and other applied learning experiences. Further, the customization available through badging can engage and motivate students to explore and demonstrate math skills directly related to their college and career interest areas.
EdSystems is supporting Illinois’s pilot sites for math badges through a State Badging Collaborative. Badges are aligned to Illinois Transitional Math competencies and the Illinois Learning Standards in mathematics (incorporating the Common Core State Standards). They are stackable and designed to be combined to translate into credit in a Transitional Math course, other high school math courses, and early college credit.
The badges also will be integrated into the forthcoming Illinois Virtual Transitional Math course. The Collaborative will be guided by a Steering Committee, which employs a user-centered process that prioritizes input from instructors and students to understand current concerns with math and how a badging process can best improve them.