The EdSystems Approach

Education Systems Center (EdSystems) is a mission-driven policy development and program implementation center based at Northern Illinois University.

Focus Areas

What We Do

  • Defining and implementing quality pathway models and competencies that prepare students for promising credentials and careers
  • Scaling and strengthening College and Career Pathway Endorsements, aligned programs of study, and work-based learning systems
  • Shaping and scaling more seamless transitions from secondary into postsecondary, including steering the growth and equity-focused implementation of Transitional Math and English
  • Fostering policies and partnerships for strategic and accessible dual credit to accelerate learner progress into and through postsecondary
  • Building systems for learners to demonstrate the competencies needed for postsecondary and career success
  • Strengthening state- and community-level data capacity and systems
  • Delivering integrated data through tools for practitioners, policymakers, and youth
  • Engaging with communities to utilize quantitative and qualitative data and evidence to inform pathways and transitions into postsecondary
  • Establishing evaluation frameworks to assess and improve policy and program implementation

Geographic Focus

Where We Work

Our primary focus is Illinois, while also working with national and international partners. Through our State university home, we forge longstanding leadership roles with State agencies and interagency boards and commissions. We work at the state level to create ecosystem and policy change while simultaneously working at the local level to create organizational change. This bi-directional approach allows us to align local efforts to state policy while elevating local experiences and learnings to state tables. Through strategic partnership building, we articulate a shared vision for enabling more Black and Latinx learners to achieve educational and career success.


We form and lead key interagency and public-private collaborations that drive policy priorities, deepen public system alignment and integration, grow public and private financial support, and enable integrated data to inform continuous improvement.

Community Networks

We build networks that align across secondary, postsecondary, and workforce and connect communities to policy frameworks by providing in-depth technical assistance, facilitation, and policy implementation support. These communities serve as exemplars to inform our State policy efforts.

Current Project Portfolio

Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System

Launched in 2022, the Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System (CECIDS) is integrating data across systems and programs to enable creation of more timely and actionable data analyses and products that serve families, program administrators, funders, advocates and policymakers.

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Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum

The Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum promotes models of personalized instruction, competency-based approaches, performance assessments, project-based learning, and other emerging innovations that provide promising education frameworks.

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smiling college students

College and Career Pathway Endorsements

Education Systems Center worked with public and private stakeholders to define key competencies for the College and Career Pathway Endorsements and is now working with community networks to support implementation of endorsement systems in line with the PWR Act.

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Future of Learning Coalition

The Future of Learning Coalition is an alliance working to advance an innovation ecosystem for equitable, student-centered education in Illinois to better prepare future-ready young people and empower them to realize their greatest potential.

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Illinois Math Badging Initiative

In partnership with XQ Institute and Student Achievement Partners, EdSystems is launching 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.

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Two young people working on a project together in a maker's space

Model Programs of Study Guides

The Model Programs of Study Guides were developed in consultation and collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education through a process led and facilitated by Education Systems Center.

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Postsecondary Leadership Series

In support of the OneGoal team and their Postsecondary Leadership Series, the EdSystems team is providing two primary services: capacity-building for OneGoal staff and advising for partner-facing content relating to college and career pathways, early college credit, transitional instruction, work-based learning, and data.

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Data Impact & Leadership

Pro Path Illinois

EdSystems supports the Common Program Information component of Pro Path Illinois, to enhance and align data captured across state administrative systems.

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A high school student looks up while taking notes in class


EdSystems staff and their partners led a multi-year process to develop and enact the PWR Act in close collaboration with a broad range of education and workforce stakeholders.

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Scaling Transformative Advanced Manufacturing Pathways (STAMP)

Through a community of practice and technical assistance to regional teams, STAMP serves secondary students enrolled in manufacturing pathways that articulate to community college programs and employment opportunities, with a particular focus on under-represented students with one or more barriers to education, training, and employment.

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