Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI)

Portrait of Juan Jose Gonzalez

Juan Jose Gonzalez

Pathways Director

Portrait of Heather Penczak

Heather Penczak

Policy & Program Manager

Logo Mark: Education Systems Center

Ginger Reynolds

Senior Fellow




East St. Louis
Fayette and Marion Counties 
Madison County
Mississippi and Rock River Region
Northwestern Suburban Chicago
South Suburban Chicago
Southern Illinois
Sugar Grove, Aurora, and Plano
Vermilion County
West Suburban Chicago

With Support From

The Joyce Foundation

scaling education pathways in illinois logoIllinois, 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 help address these challenges, the Illinois P20 CouncilThe Joyce Foundation, and EdSystems partnered in May 2019 to launch Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI). The initiative is funding nine communities to build streamlined teacher career pathways that begin in high school, extend into postsecondary, and allow students to get on a strong path to a teaching license. SEPI has a special focus on helping students from diverse backgrounds become educators.

Our Role

A map of Illinois highlighting the locations of school districts participating in the SEPI cohorts, round 1 and round 2.EdSystems supports 15 collaboratives representing 16 school districts, 25 high schools, and 12 colleges/universities throughout the state:

2019 Cohort:
2021 Cohort:

This support includes providing access to best practices, convening Communities of Practice which include annual summits, and guiding participants through the College and Career Pathway Endorsement process. We are driving innovation in college and secondary district partnerships to expand early college and career development opportunities. To support this work, EdSystems engages in State policy discussions involving the teacher shortage, with SEPI serving as the State’s leading model for early pathways in education.

Creating Currency for the College and Career Pathway Endorsement

To help strengthen the teacher pipeline in Illinois, Northern Illinois University’s College of Education and EdSystems announced new incentives for Illinois students graduating with the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) in Education in February 2021. Starting immediately, admitted students with the endorsement are automatically advanced as finalists to receive select scholarships and to participate in the college’s innovative Educate and Engage program. This announcement makes NIU the first postsecondary institution in the state to offer currency to high school students for the CCPE.

In December 2020, EdSystems announced a similar partnership with Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, which is automatically advancing any applicants who have earned or are on track to earn the CCPE to the final stage of the application process. These new collaborations are designed to help attract high school students into the education pathway and increase college completion rates for these students.

Additionally, HB2170, also known as the Education Omnibus bill, includes an update to the Illinois’ Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship to offer funding to students graduating with any of the pathway endorsements (Article 120).

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