Illinois Needs an Evaluation of Its Investments in Early Pathways for Educator Preparation

EdSystems has released a three-pronged inquiry into evaluating early pathways into the education profession, as conducted by researchers from the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Early Pathways into the Education Profession: A Comprehensive Evaluation Framework includes (1) an evaluation framework for early pathways, (2) an investigation into the feasibility of using the Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS) to analyze early pathways outcomes, and (3) an early pathways pilot study using 2022 Illinois Report Card data and interviews with high school and university administrators. EdSystems also developed a Quick Takes summary, which presents an overview and highlights of the study.

Evaluation Framework

A robust framework for evaluating early pathways is essential for understanding which programs are working, who they are working for, and the opportunities for improvement. The evaluation framework includes four areas to systematically understand early pathways programs in Illinois: 

  1. the implementation of early pathways programs, 
  2. access to early pathways programs,
  3. who completes early pathways programs, and
  4. the impact of early pathways participation and completion. 

Feasibility of Using the ILDS

Understanding how early pathways programs impact teacher shortages necessitates having data that follows both participants and non-participants through the educational system and into the workforce. The ILDS represents a centralized system where this can happen, though there are current limitations. Recommendations for advancements include creating resources for users, creating codebooks and business rules, and publishing guidance on the environment. 

Pilot Study

In the absence of ILDS data, the early pathways pilot study used 2022 Illinois Report Card data and interviews to begin to understand early pathways implementation. Findings include that Black, multiracial, and low-income students are more likely to participate in a school’s CTE education pathway and that regional grants from the Illinois State Board of Education and EdSystems’ Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois initiative are increasing the diversity of students engaged in early education pathways.

To learn more about the work, access the full report and the Quick Takes summary.

In Partnership With

The Early Pathways into the Education Profession report was developed in partnership with the NIU P-20 Research and Data Collaborative, thanks to support from The Joyce Foundation.

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