Supporting Students from High School to College and Career
The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act (PWR), signed into law in 2016, takes a student based and competency based approach to helping students achieve college and career readiness. Being equipped to attend college and obtain meaningful employment is a top priority in Illinois education, because many students are currently graduating unprepared:
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The Illinois PaCE Framework was developed with extensive input gathered from stakeholders and subject matter experts to provide guidance to students, families, and educators on what types of experiences and information a student should have in order to make the most informed decision about college and career planning beginning in 8th grade and through high school. The framework is organized around three key areas:

  • Career Exploration and Development
  • Postsecondary Education Exploration, Preparation, and Selection
  • Financial Aid and Literacy

It’s recognized that high schools and communities provide a broad array of college and career readiness activities for students, but they are not always well documented and/or connected to other initiatives within a school, district, or community. The intent of the PaCE Framework is for it to be an organizing tool to help acknowledge and connect areas of success and identify those that may need additional attention or resources.  The PaCE Framework was adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in July 2016.

Examples of activities schools could incorporate to address the three areas include:College Fair Visits
Mock Job Interviews
Career Interest Surveys

Latest Updates

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s (ISAC) Division of Capacity Development and Training continues to provide support for implementation of the Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework. ISAC is pleased to announce new dates for the PaCE Overview and PaCE Implementation Leader Training. ISAC will offer these sessions virtually and at no cost to help schools understand and adopt the Illinois PaCE Framework or develop a customized framework to fit their needs.

  • The PaCE Implementation Leader Training is for professionals interested in gaining a better understanding of how to assist their schools in implementing the Illinois PaCE Framework, or serve as a liaison between their school and ISAC if the school prefers to create and implement a customized framework. ISAC will offer PaCE Implementation Leader Training on December 17, 1–3:30 p.m.
  • The PaCE Overview is an introductory presentation to PaCE for those who would like to build a foundational understanding of the Illinois PaCE Framework. ISAC will offer the PaCE Overview Presentation on November 19, 12–1 p.m., and December 3, 12–1 p.m.

The training will be held via WebEx and registration is required. Learn more information and register at To learn more about Illinois PaCE and related resources, visit For additional questions and inquiries, please contact

College & Career Pathway Endorsements on High School Diplomas

The PWR Act establishes a voluntary system for school districts to award college and career pathways endorsements on high school diplomas. The endorsement will demonstrate students’ readiness for college and careers and completion of instruction and professional learning experiences in a selected career interest area, and incentivize career exploration and development, particularly in high-demand career fields. College and career pathway endorsements require an individualized learning plan, career-focused instruction, career exploration activities and 60 hours of internships or similar experiences. State agencies and employers are coordinating to identify minimum career competencies to incorporate into endorsement programs.

Latest Updates

First Ever Students Earn the College and Career Pathway Endorsement at Ridgewood High School
Ridgewood High School, located in the Chicago suburbs, was the first district in Illinois to award the College and Career Pathway Endorsement to Class of 2020 graduates who successfully completed the Human and Public Services and Manufacturing/Engineering pathways. For the ten Class of 2020 graduates who earned the endorsement, the goal of advanced postsecondary success is already a step closer than ever before. For the five manufacturing graduates, all received job offers in manufacturing, which three took while two enrolled in college to major in engineering. Of the five who earned the education pathway endorsement, three are now pursuing education majors in four-year colleges. Despite the current challenges of social distancing, Ridgewood anticipates even more students will earn endorsements to the Class of 2021, across additional pathways. “We want to create a pathway for every student,” says Principal Castellano. “Our end goal is for students to know what they’re passionate about and learn all their skills through project-based learning and outside experiences to meet all our graduation competencies.” Learn more about their efforts here.

Upcoming Expansion of Education and Teacher Pathways
To increase the number of students interested in seeking the teaching profession and enrolling into colleges of education, EdSystems and Teach Plus advocated for the following two items in 2019–2020 with ISBE:

  1. Tie funding in early pathways (i.e. high school students seeking a career in teaching or education) to best practices for College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) in Education
  2. Invest in curricular materials and professional learning for Education Pathways, specifically targeting high school students

In regards to Early Pathways, EdSystems has supported one cohort of districts who have tied their pathways to the CCPE and will soon be launching a second cohort. ISBE has launched a cohort. Regarding investment of curricular materials and professional learning, Teach Plus is leading the process for the Educators Rising, a national organization, to become a CTE Student Organization Illinois.
For more info, please contact Juan Jose Gonzalez or Heather Penczak.

Updated Model Programs of Study
The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) sponsored the development of Model Programs of Study Guides in crucial industry areas as part of the Illinois State Plan for Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (also known as the Perkins V Plan). These Guides were developed in consultation and collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education through a process led and facilitated by Education Systems Center at NIU (EdSystems). As further detailed in the Guides, the process involved extensive research into labor market information and credential programs, and dialogue across secondary, postsecondary, and employer stakeholders. Drafts of the first four Model Programs of Study Guides were released in June 2020 for the focus areas of Education, Health Sciences and Technology, Information Technology, and Manufacturing and Engineering. Public comment was received through August 2020, and has been incorporated into the final Guides, posted here, which were released in October 2020.

Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network
The first community of practice session for the Illinois Work-based Learning Innovation Network (I-WIN) was held on October 28, 2020, featuring national and regional innovators in virtual work-based learning. You can access the recording and materials at the I-WIN Resource site. If you would like to participate in upcoming communities of practice, please sign up here.

Transitional Instruction

Pilot of Competency Based Graduation Requirements



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