In late July 2016, Governor Rauner signed into law HB5729, also known as the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act. The Act implements strategies identified through a multi-year process led by the P-20 Council’s College and Career Readiness Committee to better align the transition from high school into college and careers.
To support the implementation of this effort at the local level, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University, on behalf of the Illinois 60 by 25 Network, awarded six Leadership Communities grants of $7,500 each in April 2017. The grants will be used to plan and begin initial implementation of one of two elements related to the PWR Act — transitional math instruction delivered to high school seniors to avoid remediation; or college and career pathway endorsements on high school diplomas.
The communities that received the grants include Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity, East Side Aligned, Making Opportunities Real for Everyone in the Rock River and Mississippi River Valley (MORE), Northwest Educational Council for Student Success (NECSS), Rockford, and the Starved Rock Region represented by North Central Regional Betterment Coalition. Aurora will focus on college and career pathway endorsements while the other five communities will focus on transitional math. All these efforts will be aligned with those occurring at the statewide level.
Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity
In Aurora, a collaborative led by West Aurora School District, the City of Aurora, Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, postsecondary institutions, the Weisner Family Center for Career Development, and pathway partners will work together to address the skills-gap problem experienced by employers in health sciences, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. The collaborative will work to identify career pathways endorsement criteria in these sectors that will include individualized learning plans, career-focused instructional sequencing, professional learning activities, and academic competencies.
East Side Aligned
East St. Louis School District 189 and Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) will partner to develop a transitional math course to ensure that at least 30 District 139 students are ready for college-level math at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. SWIC will lead the curriculum design to ensure that students completing the transitional math course do not need to take math remediation at the post-secondary level and teachers from School District 189 will visit SWIC to observe SWIC’s entry-level math course and curriculum in action.
Making Opportunities Real for Everyone in the Rock River and Mississippi River Valley (MORE)
Sauk Valley Community College and the Regional Office of Education 47 will partner with the 18 Whiteside Area Career Center High Schools to provide remedial math support for students who do not yet qualify to enter non-remedial math courses and are seeking college bearing credits. 150 students across fifteen area high schools in five counties will be eligible for the ALEKS placement program. The program will identify where students are deficient in math competencies and provide an adaptive curriculum to remediate their skills and place them into college-level coursework. Staff from the Regional Office of Education will provide onsite consultation and coaching to assist the schools.
Northwest Education Council for Student Success (NECSS)
The Northwest Education Council for Student Success serves as the convening organization for its member partners: school districts 211, 214, and 220, Harper College and Education for Employment (EFE) 070. NECSS will convene a group of math faculty from the high schools and the community college to solidify course alignment between high school and postsecondary and offer developmental math during high school that, upon successful completion, will ensure direct placement in post-secondary. The following three courses will be reviewed for college placement/dual credit alignment: Math 080, Math 101, and Math 103. The collaborative will also conduct a review of textbooks and learning resources the high schools can use to deliver the course content.
Alignment Rockford, Rockford Public Schools District 205, and Rock Valley College (RVC) will partner to expand Math 96, currently taught at Guilford High School to include East High School. Math 96 is a combined beginning and intermediate algebra and allows students to take a course that provides the remedial coursework for four classes. Once students complete the course, they are guaranteed placement in a college-level, credit-bearing course at Rock Valley College. RVC and Rockford Public Schools will align their curriculum to ensure the best instructional methods for the course to ensure student success.
Starved Rock Region represented by North Central Regional Betterment Coalition (NCRBC)
NCRBC will partner with the Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) and the LaSalle-Peru Area Career Center, which serves 9 of IVCC’s 22 feeder high schools to expand a pilot program currently provided to Mendota High School seniors. The course is based on IVCC’s developmental intermediate algebra class and successful completion allows students to bypass the math placement testing and enroll in IVCC’s credit-bearing courses. Students will also be exposed to career readiness skills, math in the trades, and financial aid for college while at the Career Center.