Two high school students engaging with their teacher in a STEM class



Juan Jose Gonzalez

Managing Director of Pathways & Operations

Heather Penczak

Director of Innovation and Implementation

Meagan Mitchell, PhD

Pathways Manager

Ginger M. Reynolds, PhD

Senior Fellow

Chicago Public Schools: Preparing Students for College and Career Success

In 2019, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of College and Career Success (OCCS), established a pathways vision framework that defines a comprehensive approach for implementing the Learn. Plan. Succeed. graduation requirement. This approach emphasizes student attainment of foundational skills (i.e., employability, social-emotional learning), academic and financial readiness, and acceleration toward a career area of interest. In addition, CPS, with OCCS as the lead department, and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) developed the Chicago Student Success Roadmap to ensure Chicago students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers and succeed once they matriculate to college, with a specific focus on closing equity gaps.

Our Role

With the support of Crown Family Philanthropies, CPS brought in EdSystems to provide strategic counsel and support of the OCCS pathways vision framework and Student Success Roadmap through:

  • Advising on state policy alignment, including the PWR Act, the ESSA College and Career Readiness Indicator (CCRI), and the State’s Perkins V plan.
  • Mapping and supporting the implementation of dual credit pathways in alignment with the College and Career Pathway Endorsements and Illinois Model Programs of Study Guides.
  • Defining and scaling a work-based learning continuum aligned with state policies and definitions for programs administered by OCCS.
  • Providing deep technical support to implement transitional math and English courses.
  • Developing recommendations for improvements to the CPS-CCC youth apprenticeship system.

In spring 2021, EdSystems began a project to provide strategic counsel, analysis, and recommendations to CCC to enhance its systems for onboarding and supporting dual credit high school instructors. After investigating existing national and Illinois models, EdSystems conducted focus groups and interviews with CPS dual credit instructors, principals, administrators, early college coordinators, and faculty coordinators. EdSystems worked with CCC and CPS administration throughout the summer to refine an emerging set of recommendations for the next steps beginning in fall 2021. The Strengthening Supports for Dual Credit Instruction in Chicago: Takeaways and Promising Practices report outlines our process for the analysis and the resulting insights and recommendations. It is intended for both CPS and CCC system administrators and instructors, as well as other community colleges and school districts seeking to strengthen their systems for dual credit delivery. EdSystems continues to partner with CPS and CCC to support implementing the recommendations, including facilitating teams of CPS and CCC instructors to develop course packets for dual credit instructors.

To date, EdSystems has supported OCCS in finalizing pathway maps—which include robust dual credit offerings and work-based learning in alignment with the Illinois College and Career Pathway Endorsement—for the health sciences, IT, education, and manufacturing sectors. In addition, dual credit course packets have been designed and disseminated across the district for priority health sciences, IT, English, and math courses. Ongoing support includes designing and implementing pathway programs, further developing the work-based learning continuum, and data strategies for tracking pathways and work-based learning experiences.

The Latest


Extended Model Pathways in Chicago

In fall 2023, EdSystems began work with Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago to develop five extended model pathways starting from early college through associate and bachelor degree completion for the following industry sectors: health sciences, information technology, advanced manufacturing, IT, and construction.

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Thought Leadership

Launch-ing Into Policy Innovation for Postsecondary Access and Success

Alongside state and local leaders from across Illinois, we have been engaging in a design thinking process as innovation cohort participants of the Launch initiative. Through this process, we are working to identify systems-level barriers to equitable access and outcomes and develop innovative solutions for pressing challenges in postsecondary transitions and success.

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