An icon of a path, representing the Postsecondary & Career Expectations (PaCE) framework

Postsecondary and Career Expectations

Illinois’ Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) framework guides communities on how to organize career exploration and development, college preparation and selection, and financial literacy requirements.

PaCE 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 middle school grades 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

High schools and communities provide a broad array of college and career readiness activities for students, but these are not always well documented, available to all students, 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.

PaCE 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 2017.

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 6–12 to adopt and commence implementation of career exploration and career development activities for each of grades 6–12 in accordance with a framework that substantially aligns with PaCE. Districts may elect to opt-out by school board action.

PaCE Resources

Counselors, advisors, teachers, and other educators can use the PaCE framework to identify what types of experiences and information a student should have in order to make the most informed decisions about postsecondary education and career planning from 8th through 12th grade.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission leads the state’s PaCE training and support initiatives. Visit ISAC’s website for the latest resource materials and upcoming training opportunities.

The 2016 Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act included multiple policy frameworks, including the Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) and the College and Career Pathway Endorsements. The Illinois State Board of Education developed the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan, which included a College and Career Readiness Indicator in the school quality framework. This document lays out the key areas of alignment between the frameworks to help practitioners understand the connections as they implement the frameworks.

Download various examples of customized PaCE frameworks.