College and Career Pathways Endorsements

The PWR Act establishes a voluntary system for school districts to award college and career pathways endorsements (CCPE) on high school diplomas. The endorsement simultaneously demonstrates students’ readiness for postsecondary programs and entry-level professional learning experiences in a selected career interest area. The endorsement also incentivizes career exploration and acceleration, 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.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Public Act 102-0917 (HB3296) into law on May 27, 2022, which requires districts1 enrolling students in any of grades 9–12 to either (i) independently, (ii) through an area career center, or (iii) through an inter-district cooperative, apply to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to offer CCPE in at least one endorsement area beginning with the high school graduating class of 2027. The district must apply to ISBE to offer one additional endorsement by 2029 and a third by 2031, if a district has more than 350 students enrolled (the State median enrollment for high school-serving districts). By July 1, 2025, districts must either apply to ISBE for the number of endorsement areas specified in the law or the school board must adopt a timeline for implementation meeting the expectations of the law. Districts may elect to opt out by school board action as directed in the Act.

Spotlight

The Illinois Community College Board and Education Systems Center at NIU have developed Model Programs of Study Guides that concretely demonstrate how to apply the principles of the CCPE in practice through a sequence of coursework and work-based learning aligned to labor market needs. Further, ICCB and EdSystems provided webinars for each of the published Model Programs of Study Guides.

Key Resources

The framework for the College and Career Pathway Endorsement Framework established by the PWR Act. This is a voluntary system for school districts to award on high school diplomas to those demonstrating readiness for college and careers.

The Illinois State Board of Education invites interested districts to complete the voluntary process for school districts to award College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) to high school graduates. To offer the endorsements, districts must submit an application and a report of projected student participation.

Download the published Model Programs of Study Guides for the different College & Career Pathway Endorsement areas.

This document includes the State of Illinois’ overarching definition for career pathways and the work-based learning components of College & Career Pathway Endorsements as agreed to by multiple state agencies, boards, and committees, and other stakeholders.

The competencies set forth in this document were developed through an iterative process involving public-private steering committees established pursuant to the PWR Act in order to implement College and Career Pathway Endorsements.

Guidance and Implementation Supports

This resource page serves as an orientation for educators to the CCPE and its implementation. Content is organized by Administrators, Division Heads and Teachers, and Student Advisors and Counselors.

Education Systems Center at NIU developed a free project management tool and accompanying tracker to support school districts, intermediary organizations, and school leaders develop action plans for implementing college and career pathways in a deliberate and sustainable manner.

The Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network (I-WIN) is designed to help employers, educators, and students leverage innovative models for scaling high-quality work-based learning opportunities in school districts and community colleges across the State. I-WIN explores ways to create equitable opportunities for students through both in-person and virtual learning.

A presentation on the components that make up a work-based learning continuum.

The CDE toolkit provides guidance regardless to any organization establishing or running a Career Development Experience program, to ensure programs are meeting the requirements of state frameworks and providing high-quality, rigorous, work-based learning experiences.

Exemplary Practices from the Field

The Region Office of Education 47 website hosts information on regional pathways and participating schools.

On Vienna High School’s website, students and families can view videos introducing each of the Career Pathways and access pathway-specific resources.

On its website, Ridgewood High School outlines the components of earning a CCPE, current postsecondary currency available for CCPE earners, and recognition for alumni who graduated with a CCPE.

District 214 is delineating and elevating pathways in alignment with the endorsement as a part its Academic Programs and Pathways Guidebook. The Guidebook serves as a model for language and visuals to communicate about the pathway endorsement to students and their families.

Leaders from District 100 share how they are implementing competencies in curricula to develop industry-aligned pathways that lead to the state endorsement.

2022 grant recipients participating in the Illinois State Board of Education’s Career Exploration and Career Development Experience Pilot presented their pilot experiences including a general overview of their experience, lessons learned and challenges overcome, best practices, and resources.