P-20 Network Fall Virtual Meeting

Like the Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting, the Fall 2020 Meeting has also been moved to an online asynchronous event. Despite again missing out on face-to-face, real-time interactions, we are excited to bring you the relevant presentations that have been requested.

Each of the presentations below links to a video on the P-20 Network YouTube Channel.

Welcome – Thinking about Engagement Networks
Dr. Rena Cotsones, Chief Engagement Officer & Senior Associate Vice President, Northern Illinois University

College & Career Readiness – College & Career Pathways

An Overview of Career & Technical Education and Perkins V from ISBE & ICCB – Natasha Allan, Director for Career & Technical Education, Illinois Community College Board; Marci Johnson, Director of Career & Technical Education and Innovation, Illinois State Board of Education

Bringing Work Home: A Framework for Virtual Work-Based Learning (Also presented for the Forum for Excellence 2020) – Heather Penczak, Policy & Program Manager, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University; Carl Schneider, Fellow, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University; Nikki James, Practera at Northeastern University

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads
Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads YouTube Playlist
Suggest a Guest

College & Career Readiness – Dual Credit

“How does a teacher get a dual credit endorsement in Illinois?” – Dr. Jenny Parker, Associate Vice Provost for Educator Licensure and Preparation, Northern Illinois University

Dual Credit Teacher Professional Development Plans – Alauna McGee, Director of Early College Opportunities, Heartland Community College

Equity & Opportunity

Parent University: Key Components and Getting Started – Susana Das Neves, Director of Illinois Migrant Education Services, Northern Illinois University

Research & Data

Illinois Postsecondary Profiles – Launch of Path 2 – Occupational Profiles – Charlie Rosemond, Data & Outcomes Manager, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University; Dr. Jason Klein, Director of P-20 Initiatives, Northern Illinois University

P-20 Research & Data Collaborative – Overview + State/Federal Projects – Dr. Alan Clemens, Director, NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative; Dr. Ben Creed, Assistant Professor, College of Education-Northern Illinois University; Dr. Kelly Summers, Associate Professor, College of Education-Northern Illinois University

P-20 Research & Data Collaborative – Working with Local Organizations: Perspectives from Superintendents – Dr. Steve Epperson, Superintendent, Paw Paw CUSD271; Dr. Lynn Gibson, Superintendent, Paw Paw CUSD271

For more information and to be part of the conversation of the P-20 Network:

October 2020

Administrator Academies 2020-2021

For this school year, the Illinois P-20 Network & NIU STEAM have added new Administrator Academies and are bringing back other important Administrator Academies.

UPDATE – 02 October 2020 – The DeKalb ROE registration link is now live.

Each year, school administrators in Illinois are required to participate in at least one Administrator Academy professional learning workshop. The Illinois P-20 Network is pleased to offer these workshops in conjunction with the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education and registration links for each online workshop will be posted on the DeKalb County ROE Professional Development website under the correct month. Of course, teachers and postsecondary staff and faculty members are also invited to these professional learning sessions. Professional Development Hours (PDHs) will also be provided to those attending who are not administrators. Each workshop costs only $124 per participant, and they are all online and available to educators across Illinois and beyond.

  • October 30 — How Data Demands Dual Credit for Everyone – Expanding Early College Options
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #1895)
  • November 10 — Social and Emotional Learning Leads to College & Career Readiness
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #3753)
  • November 18 – STEAMing it Up! Integrate science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) in-person and online in conjunction with NIU STEAM
    Dr. Kristin Brynteson (Administrator Academy #3697)
  • December 9 – Finding High Quality, Standards-Aligned Illinois Resources – iOER in conjunction with NIU STEAM
    Dr. Kristin Brynteson (Administrator Academy #3758)
  • December 11 — College and Career Pathways
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #3749)
  • January 22 – Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework: Are Your Students On PaCE to Thrive?
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #1890)
  • April 14 — College and Career Pathways
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #3749)
  • June 8 – Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework: Are Your Students On PaCE to Thrive?
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #1890)
  • June 9 — Social and Emotional Learning Leads to College & Career Readiness
    Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #3753)

The Illinois P-20 Network is also happy to work with individual school districts, Regional Offices of Education, and other educational organizations to bring Administrator Academies to you. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Jason Klein.

September 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads continues expanding

From Broadway to the lab and from the courtroom to the construction site, we are excited to bring work-based learning activities to our students as they learn at home and to provide relevant, ready-to-use resources for teachers to use with students. Share the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads series with your teachers and students! 

As we start the 2020-2021 school year, we are creating and publishing new episodes. If you have a suggestion for a potential guest for a Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, please share that with us using this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads Guest Recommendation Form. 

September 2020

Learning – remote & in-person across the P-20 Network

As the 2020-2021 school year begins in never-seen-before fashion, school districts and postsecondary institutions are each determining the best ways to balance the needs of keeping students and staff members safe, meeting the demands of their stakeholders, and supporting students with learning and teachers and faculty with teaching.

Over the past year, as part of the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative, Illinois P-20 Network staff have been deeply involved in a number of statewide research projects on topics ranging from early childhood education through postsecondary student performance. In an effort to best serve the Illinois P-20 Network, through conversations with leaders of P-20 Network partners, it has become increasingly clear that one way in which the P-20 Network can support its partners is by collecting and providing access to real-time data. To this end, P-20 Network staff have collected data from partners’ websites on the current status of their remote versus in-person learning plans for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. While the Illinois State Board of Education has also created a similar tool for analyzing remote versus in-person learning, it only includes data from about 75% of the state’s school districts that responded to ISBE’s survey request.

This data below is provided separately at each level – elementary school, middle school, high school, and postsecondary. In conducting the data collection and analysis, the P-20 Network team quickly understood that many school districts are approaching their remote and hybrid learning models in complex ways, and this led to the presentation of data in this way.

Below, there are 4 slides of data with a chart and map at each level that you can click through:

  • Postsecondary Institutions
  • High Schools
  • Middle Schools
  • Elementary Schools

Postsecondary Institutions


High Schools


Middle Schools


Elementary Schools


If the data for your organization is inaccurate, please let us know by emailing the Illinois P-20 Network.

Over the coming weeks, we will be seeking out additional data, including trying to collect the cost of COVID-19 thus far on each of your institutions, and we will be refining and improving these type of data visualizations moving forward. We look forward to bringing you more useful data in ever-more usable formats in order to best support organizations across the Illinois P-20 Network.

August 2020

The ILLINOIS P-20 Network

Since its inception at Northern Illinois University in 2014 as the Northern Illinois Regional P-20 Network, the goals of the organization have been threefold:

  • Bring together educational leaders from all levels of education – from early childhood educators through K-12, community colleges, and universities, and including adult education leaders
  • Identify common challenges and solutions and work together to enact those with policymakers and to implement best practices across our organizations
  • Increase learning, achievement, and the attainment of degrees and high quality credentials among the people of Illinois, making all of our communities stronger and helping individuals achieve their personal dreams

Throughout that time period, leaders have come together for meetings each year and to undertake important tasks in workgroups that have led to state-wide results. Increasingly, Northern Illinois Regional P-20 Network staff have worked on specific curriculum & instruction projects in Central and Southern Illinois. Additionally, staff members have been involved in statewide research studies, and the Network provides important connections between practitioners and the development team for the statewide Illinois Report Card and Illinois Postsecondary Profiles websites.

Illinois P-20 Network Logo 2020

As a result of these statewide efforts and in an effort to support all learners and all educational organizations across Illinois, we are excited to announce that moving forward, we will be the Illinois P-20 Network. We will continue to focus our efforts on supporting all learners and on initiatives that require collaboration across the various “levels” of education in Illinois. With this official expansion to a state-wide footprint, we hope to:

  • ensure that high quality instruction and services are available in all schools and communities for learners of all ages
  • collaborate with educators and organizations statewide to best leverage our collective knowledge and strengths
  • share successes from across Illinois to spread those solutions widely and quickly to benefit students
  • build upon the existing statewide research and data projects with which the Illinois P-20 Network has already been involved

To become involved in the P-20 Network, leaders in school districts, community colleges and universities, as well as other organizations, should simply subscribe to our free, every-other-week Illinois P-20 Network Newsletter.

If you have ideas regarding priority Areas of Focus for the Illinois P-20 Network and/or other comments, questions, or suggestions, please email the Illinois P-20 Network at p20network@niu.edu.

July 2020

College Changes Everything (CCE) Conference

This year’s annual College Changes Everything® (CCE) conference is being held virtually in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online conference includes both recorded interest sessions and a schedule of live sessions over a two-week period with the first live event on July 22, 2020. 

To register for the live sessions and access the recorded session as your schedule permits, please visit the 2020 CCE conference website

July 2020

Model Programs of Study Guides Released

As part of the Perkins V Plan in the State of Illinois, Model Programs of Study are being developed and articulated through specific guides for each program. Support for these efforts was provided by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), and leadership for the development and publication of these guides was led by Northern Illinois University’s Education Systems Center. Four guides have been released in the following areas: 

  • Education
  • Health Sciences & Technology
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing & Engineering

Each of these guides is available on the Model Programs of Study page of the Education Systems Center website

Additionally, public comment is open on the draft guides using this Model Programs of Study Guides Feedback Survey through August 28, 2020. 

July 2020

The P-20 Network – Who we are collectively – June 2020

At the historic and unusual end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the P-20 Network decided to collect a small amount of demographic data and analyze the make-up of the Network based on who its students are as reported publicly via the Illinois Report Card and Illinois Postsecondary Profiles websites. This data is based on the numbers reported on those websites on June 30, 2020, which, to a large degree, is data from the previous school year (a year old). Nevertheless, it paints a relatively accurate picture of who makes up the P-20 Network. For this analysis, only data from school districts and postsecondary institutions from across the Network was studied as including the state agencies or other statewide organizations would naturally include all students and organizations across Illinois.

Overall, the P-20 Network currently includes organizations that serve over 700,000 students, and approximately half of them are served in school districts and half of them are served in postsecondary institutions.

Elementary & Secondary Students

Across the school districts that are engaged with the P-20 Network, there are 366,810 students. In general, the demographics of the P-20 Network mirror the State of Illinois with a few key differences.

Student DemographicP-20 Network (%)State (%)
Low Income 3849
Students with IEPs1516
Homeless Students22
Students learning English1312
White Students49.447.6
Black Students8.416.7
Hispanic Students28.426.4
Asian Students9.45.1
American Indian Students0.30.3
Pacific Islander Students0.10.1
Students of 2 or more races4.03.8

The school districts that participate in the P-20 Network have an overall lower percentage of low income students (38%) than Illinois does statewide (49%) and a lower percentage of students whose families identify as Black (8.4%) than does Illinois (16.7%). There is also a higher percentage of students whose families identify as Asian across the P-20 Network school districts (9.4%) than there is across the entire state (5.1%). Not represented by this data is the fact that the school districts that currently make up the P-20 Network also represent a wide variety of communities, from smaller (in population), rural farming communities to urban centers to a wide range of suburban communities featuring many different types of housing and commercial areas. The range of careers that make up the communities represented across the P-20 Network is arguably as diverse as anywhere in the United States.

Despite these differences, the general diversity of students across Illinois is represented by the school districts across the P-20 Network, and regardless of comparisons, the students being served across these school districts represent a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Postsecondary Students

As a result of the efforts of the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the Illinois Postsecondary Profiles website offers a wealth of data about students in higher education in Illinois. This data is not aggregated statewide like it is in the Illinois Report Card, and there is not data included about how old students are or what their pathways to their current postsecondary experiences are. (For example, the question how many current community college students already have a Bachelor’s Degree? is not answered by this data.) Nevertheless, there are some important data points we can begin to track across the P-20 Network.

Student DemographicP-20 Network (%)
Full-Time Students41
Part-Time Students59
White Students48
Black Students11
Hispanic Students25
Asian Students7

From even this brief data set, there are a number of important points for analysis. First, the percentages of full-time versus part-time students has significant implications for instruction, schooling, and supports. Most of the postsecondary institutions in the P-20 Network are community colleges (20 of the 25 postsecondary institutions), and the high number of part-time students is not new or uncommon in community colleges. Nevertheless, it is important information for programming and supports and ensuring advancement and degree completion. With regards to the race/ethnicity data points, the enrollment of postsecondary students across P-20 Network institutions closely reflects the demographic characteristics of the population of elementary and secondary students with Black students being underrepresented in postsecondary institutions in comparison to the percentage of the current K-12 student population statewide and with Asian students being represented at a higher percentage in postsecondary institutions than they are in the current K-12 student population statewide.

Overall, the P-20 Network is very diverse, and educational successes across the P-20 Network are successes that can likely be replicated across Illinois, the United States, and beyond.

Thank you to P-20 Network Graduate Research Assistant Sadia Qamar for the data collection and methodology work done that served as the foundation for this analysis.

June 2020

Transitional English – Learn more and provide feedback

Over the course of the 2018-2019 school year, in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Education Systems Center led a committee of educators from school districts and postsecondary institutions in the development of the draft Course Parameters and Competencies for Transitional English. During this same period, the Illinois Community College Board awarded grants to support community colleges and school districts in beginning to develop and launch their Transitional English programs locally that would based their work on this statewide framework. The ICCB Transitional English Grant awardees represent a variety of institutions, geographic regions, and demographics throughout Illinois.

On June 2, 2020, Education Systems Center, the state agencies, and representatives of the Competency Development Group presented a statewide Transitional English webinar to provide background and explanation regarding Transitional English.

Educators and the public can provide feedback on the draft framework using this Transitional English Public Comment Survey through July 31, 2020.

The image below provides an outline of the process of moving from where it is today to full implementation.

At the time of the publication, the State of Illinois is in the left-most circle. Based on the feedback, there may be adjustments to the draft framework. Then, during Fall 2020, it is anticipated that the state agencies will review the course parameters and competencies and then adopt them. At that point, the work will shift to implementing the statewide portability panel in order to ensure that all students who are successful in Transitional English can be placed in the appropriate college English class across Illinois.

For more information, visit the Illinois Community College Board’s official Transitional English website.

June 2020

Learn about Competency-Based Education

Join Education Systems Center for a webinar that highlights Competency-Based Education
June 23rd from 9 to 10.30 AM 

Competency-Based Education can provide a stronger foundation for providing deep, authentic learning opportunities for all students and for most appropriately challenge students as well as meeting individual academic and social-emotional needs. Competency-Based Education offers flexibility that can also support very strong implementations of Career Pathway Endorsements and a wide range of Dual Credit offerings.  

Over the past four years, dozens of Illinois school district have been implementing Competency-Based Education. As one of these superintendents recently said when referring to the shift to remote learning in March, 2020, “Being a Competency-Based district made the move to remote learning so much easier, and we were so much more effective with students as a result of the work we’d been doing.” The benefits of Competency-Based Education extend far beyond remote learning. The realities of remote learning have caused professionals across all kinds of fields to consider changes to their work. In the case of educators, one result of these reflective questions is a heightened awareness of and desire to learn more about Competency-Based Education. 

On June 23, 2020, our partners at Education Systems Center invite policymakers and practitioners to a webinar that will explore the opportunities remote learning provides to shift from traditional teaching and learning to more systemic personalized and competency-based approaches. Led by national experts, this session will provide a framework with entry points and next steps for pivoting to personalized instructional systems that meet students “where they are” and support them in moving forward as they are ready. Participants will also examine the challenges they have addressed implementing remote learning and consider how shifting to personalized, competency-based approaches can provide a useful framework for next school year and beyond. 

This session will be led by three national experts in personalized and competency-based approaches who are authors of the new book Deeper Competency-Based Learning: Making Equitable, Student-Centered, Sustainable Shifts: Rose Colby, Karin Hess, Ed. D, and Daniel Joseph. In addition, participants will hear directly from Illinois districts at the leading edge of implementing competency-based approaches through the state’s competency-based pilot. 

Following registration, participants will receive excerpts from Deeper Competency-Based Learning: Making Equitable, Student-Centered, Sustainable Shifts along with reflection questions to respond to in advance of the session. 

Register for the June 23, 2020 Shifts Happen: COVID-19 “disruptions” can offer new opportunities for moving toward personalization and competency-based approaches webinar 

June 2020

Transitional English – Public Comment opens June 1st

Transitional English info is available for review now, and there are two upcoming webinars in which you can participate to learn more and ask questions!


Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, a statewide committee of educators representing school districts, community colleges, universities and state agencies came together to examine research and best practices and to develop competencies and course parameters for Transitional English to be offered to high school seniors throughout Illinois. Recently, the committee’s work was published in this draft Statewide Transitional English Course Parameters and Competencies document. Public comments will be collected between June 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020.

Information to login to each of the following webinars is being sent out to P-20 Network Newsletter subscribers on Friday, May 29th. If you do not currently receive the P-20 Network Newsletter, complete this short P-20 Network Newsletter Subscription Form before May 29th. After May 29th, for more information on logging in to these webinars, please contact Brooke Simon at the P-20 Network.

 

Introductory Webinar

On June 2, 2020, at 2.00 PM, Education Systems Center will be hosting a webinar to provide important background information regarding Transitional English.

 

Follow-Up Webinar – Brief Overview and Question & Answer Time

On June 9, 2020, at 2.30 PM, the P-20 Network and Education Systems Center will be jointly hosting a webinar to answer questions from practitioners about the proposed Transitional English Course Parameters and Competencies. Login information for the webinar is listed below. Organizations are also encouraged to submit questions about Transitional English ahead of time online.

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Jocsan Martinez – Nuclear Power Plant Management

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Jocsan Martinez, who is a civil engineer and shift manager for Exelon Corporation at the Byron Nuclear Power Plant in Byron, Illinois. The Byron Nuclear Power Plant can generate enough electricity each year to power over 2,000,000 homes, and Jocsan leads one of the teams that runs the plant’s main operations, which range from managing the layers of safety systems to performing important maintenance in order to produce power all day each day. Jocsan grew up in Chicago and attended Whitney Young High School before studying civil engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. An internship at the Byron Nuclear Power Plant led to his eventual full-time employment there and a unique 5-week rotating schedule that features 12-hour shifts.

As a civil engineer, Jocsan’s job is part of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway.

In this video, Jocsan describes engineers and their work by saying, “We solve problems, and there are always problems to solve.” Additionally, while he stresses the importance of math and science skills, he emphatically states that “teamwork and communication are key” to success in his work.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads with nuclear power plant shift manager Jocsan Martinez.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

P-20 Network Career Pathways User Group

The Postsecondary Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act created the Career Pathway Endorsements in Illinois. School districts across Illinois are increasingly exploring how they may offer Career Pathways Endorsements to students. As school districts navigate through implementing instruction aligned around the Career Pathways Endorsements, as a result of feedback with school leaders in a wide range of school districts across Illinois, the P-20 Network is launching the Career Pathways User Group.

The Career Pathways User Group directly builds on the central theme of the P-20 Network, the User Group is an opportunity for school districts to identify both challenges and solutions and to share ideas with one another to successfully implement Career Pathways Endorsements. The Career Pathways User Group is open to all school districts. User Group participants will be able to ask questions and share ideas with one another at any time, and there will be optional online meetings and sharing sessions led by User Group members to help one another spread best practices and problem solve how to overcome obstacles.

Sign-up to become a member of the P-20 Network Career Pathways User Group today.

May 2020

June 2020 Administrator Academy Opportunities – Online

Each year, school administrators in Illinois are required to participate in at least one Administrator Academy professional learning workshop. Given the unprecedented and extraordinary efforts of educators throughout Illinois over the past two months, many administrators found their original plans to participate an Administrator Academy were unable to be completed. As the P-20 Network had already been developing a menu of Administrator Academies to offer for the 2020-2021 school year, we are excited to offer four online Administrator Academy workshops this June.

These workshops are being offered in conjunction with the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education and registration links for each online workshop are posted on the DeKalb County ROE Professional Development website under the June 2020. Of course, teachers are also invited to these professional learning sessions, and Professional Development Hours (PDHs) will also be provided to those attending who are not administrators. Each workshop only costs $124 per participant.

  • June 10 – STEAMing it Up! Integrate science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) throughout the school (in conjunction with NIU STEAM) – Dr. Kristin Brynteson (Administrator Academy #3697)
  • June 12 — Illinois Transitional Math: All students ready for postsecondary math courses in their field of study (in conjunction with NIU STEAM) – Dr. Kristin Brynteson & Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #3696)
  • June 17 — How Data Demands Dual Credit for Everyone – Expanding Early College Options – Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #1895)
  • June 24 – Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework: Are Your Students On PaCE to Thrive? – Dr. Amy Jo Clemens & Dr. Jason Klein (Administrator Academy #1890)

The P-20 Network is also actively developing additional Administrator Academies that we look forward to offering in the near future during the 2020-2021 school year. For more information, please contact Jason Klein.

 

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Erika Sittler – Electrical Engineer

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Erika Sittler, who is an electrical engineer for the City of St. Charles (St. Charles, Illinois). Erika provides background about arriving in Chicagoland as a 14 year-old and entering Schaumburg High School before attending Harper College and then the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As she moved through her higher education experiences, she focused on electrical engineering–partially because she did not think she would be interested or successful with the type of hands-on work with machinery that is often part of mechanical engineering. Today, one of Erika’s favorite aspects of her work is being in the field and helping to diagnose and fix broken equipment.

Erika’s job crosses multiple Career Pathways. As an electrical engineer, her job is part of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway. Likewise, given Erika’s role in helping to maintain the city-owned electrical grid in St. Charles, Illinois, her position also has strong connections to the Human & Public Services Career Pathway.

Erika tells students that it is important to enjoy and be good at problem solving, writing, and math in order to do her job well. Put another way, Erika says that people who like to tinker and building things and who enjoy solving puzzles have important skills to do well as an electrical engineer.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode with electrical engineer Erika Sittler.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Steve O’Neil – Environmental Biologist/Wastewater Operator

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Steve O’Neill, who is a Wastewater Operator for the City of St. Charles (St. Charles, Illinois). Steve speaks about his educational background, including the importance of one of his high school teachers at St. Charles East High School and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from Eastern Illinois University. Steve highlights the range of activities he encounters and completes each week in his work, ranging from biology in a lab setting to working with industrial machinery in the field, and he explains how he feels his work improves the world by maintaining human and environmental health within the community locally and by contributing to clean water globally.

Like many of the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads guests, Steve’s work spans across a number of Career Pathways. In large part, his work is rooted in the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Pathway, but given the role of large, industrial machinery in Steve’s work, there are also significant elements of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway. Finally, as is clear in Steve’s interview, his focus on being a public servant as a government worker also provides strong evidence of his job being part of the Human & Public Services Career Pathway.

In this episode, Steve spoke about how diverse his work is within a day and from one day to the next, and he also spoke about first being aware of the possibility of working for local government as a result of a summer job he held as a teenager. From that, he built and maintained relationships that then led to a long-term position and a career. Even in a job that requires dealing with raw sewage, Steve reminds students to “never shy away from an opportunity to learn something new.”

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode with environmental biologist Steve O’Neil.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Joan Schouten – Government Purchasing Manager

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Joan Schouten, who is the Purchasing Division Manager for the City of St. Charles (St. Charles, Illinois). Joan speaks about the importance of collaboration and organization in her work, and she discusses how critical it is that government’s use of the money that comes from taxpayers is efficient and ethical. Joan comments on the wide range of individuals with whom she is able to work in her role and how interesting it is to always be learning about new products, processes, and solutions as she sets-up and manages purchasing processes for the wide range of goods and services necessary to keep a city government operating.

As a purchasing manager, Joan’s work is rooted in the Business & Finance Career Pathway, but as an employ of local government, her occupation is also directly connected to the Human & Public Services Pathway.

Joan stresses that her work gives her a strong sense of pride as she feels like she is giving back to her community with the work that she does each day. Joan also finds her work incredibly interesting as she interacts with people in a wide range of industries and jobs regularly based on the many different goods and services that the city needs to purchase.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads interview with government purchasing manager Joan Schouten.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Illinois Longitudinal Data System – An Introduction

The Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS) was formed in 2013 as a collaborative body to facilitate the linkage of records across state agencies over time.  The objective was to more efficiently analyze data and program impacts across data systems to improve education, human services, and workforce outcomes.  By linking these records, research involving various data sources across multiple agencies could increase program efficiency and effectiveness.

To oversee record linkage, the ILDS selected Northern Illinois University (NIU) as the Centralized Demographic Dataset Administrator (CDDA) in 2015.  The ILDS pursued a federated model for the data system that allows each agency to maintain its own data and policies regarding use of that data, while allowing the CDDA to use data from the state agencies to match records and maintain a Master Client Index (MCI).  Contained in the MCI are a select number of fields and the CDDA-IDs, which provide the basis for supporting research involving records from across several state agencies.

Progress towards providing the CDDA-IDs for school districts and post-secondary institutions is being made.  As these IDs become more accessible for districts and institutions, there are increasing opportunities to conduct research using data from multiple state agencies.  Additionally, the IDs can support improved data sharing and research at the local level between school districts and postsecondary institutions.  To learn more about the potential of using CDDA-IDs for your district’s or institution’s research interests, please contact William Holderfield of Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies at wholderfield1@niu.edu.

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Jeff Carter – Electrician

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Jeff Carer, who is an electrician and the owner of A and J Electric in Sycamore, Illinois. Jeff explains the process of becoming an electrician, which includes a four-to-five year apprenticeship, and he stresses the importance of ongoing learning throughout one’s career. Today, for example, Jeff continues to learn about updates to code in different counties and municipalities as well as a focus on safety as defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

As an electrician and a business owner, Jeff is in the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway as well as the Business & Finance Career Pathway.

In both his profession as an electrician and beyond as a former baseball player and current shark diver, Jeff has a unique perspective on his work, and he explains how much he enjoys that each day is different in his job. From working on the re-construction of Soldier Field to skyscrapers in Chicago to work locally, there is tremendous satisfaction Jeff finds from safely and successfully completing each job. Jeff also stresses the importance work ethic and a desire to learn – Arriving early and asking questions are two key examples of this.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads interview with electrician Jeff Carter.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Bridget Caragher – Social Worker

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logo Since students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Bridget Caragher, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and co-owner at Green Door Therapy. Bridget provides therapy for individuals and families, and she also has responsibilities in managing the business that range from working with insurance companies to posting on social media. Bridget explains the requirements of earning a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree as well as then continuing on for your clinical certification, and she also provides tips about what high school and college/university students can do now in order to prepare for a career as a therapist even while they are in school.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Bridget’s work is in the Human & Public Services Career Pathway.

In speaking about social work and other related careers, Bridget explained an educational progression that would include a Bachelor’s Degree, followed immediately by a Master’s Degree, and then a full-time internship. She also spoke about how students can begin to explore the career by volunteering and working roles like serving as a camp counselor while still in school. Most importantly, Bridget stressed that critical competencies for success in this work were to be open-minded and empathetic, saying the key to helping others in her job was to ‘look for resilience where people don’t see it in themselves.’

Watch this interview with social worker Bridget Caragher.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

P-20 Research & Data Collaborative – Ready to help your organization with research and data

The P-20 Network is a proud partner with key departments and academic units at Northern Illinois University in the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative.

The NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative empowers your progress with data and research initiatives within your organizations that are crucial to making informed decisions in this critical time. Whether generating, understanding, managing or engaging with data and research, the Collaborative has project experience and staff with that expertise. Our current data and research portfolio includes projects with:

  • local school districts
  • local government agencies
  • statewide policy
  • workforce development
  • early childhood programming

Please reach out to the P-20 Research & Data Collaborative or the P-20 Network to see how we can support your organization with meeting specific data and research needs.

  • Alan Clemens, Director of Illinois Interactive Report Cards at Northern Illinois University
  • Jason Klein, Director of P-20 Initiatives
April 2020

Elements of a Team-Based Challenge

A Career Pathway Endorsement Team-Based Challenge is a self-contained exercise that may vary in length and structure ranging from an individual activity to an instructional unit. 

A Team-Based Challenge should require students to utilize and demonstrate competency with work-based knowledge and skills as they work to solve an authentic work-based problem as members of a collaborative team. 

Career Pathway Endorsement Team-Based Challenges should include the following features: 

  • Challenges seek solutions to authentic problems that are identified from and/or in collaboration with industry partners, are regionally relevant and globally connected, and result in a real solution that can be applied and implemented in the “real world”. As part of or in addition to the solution/product, students must complete a presentation of their solution and its application to an authentic audience. 
  • Students work in collaborative groups to solve the problem. 
  • Students are supported by an expert mentor from the field. If possible, experts should also be present for student presentations at the culmination of the Team-Based Challenge. 
  • Challenges require students to demonstrate key technical, employability, and entrepreneurial competencies. Successful demonstration of the competencies through a Team-Based Challenge is typically represented through a rubric and/or another form of authentic assessment. 

Career Pathway Endorsement Team-Based Challenges are also a strong vehicle for providing opportunities for new partners with school districts. Since Challenges are shorter in duration and do not require significant commitments of time or the need to host students on-site (and the ensuing policy challenges that may come with that), Team-Based Challenges provide a “lighter” way for new partners to work alongside the school district and to have their employees engage with students as experts. With the proliferation of advanced communications technologies in school classrooms, such interactions may be in-person either in school or at the partner’s site through a research trip or online. 

A Career Pathway Endorsement Team-Based Challenge can take place within a course that is part of the identified sequence for a particular College & Career Pathway. Challenges can also take place as part of a co-curricular activity. 

November 2019