While the Class of 2020 is the first group of students in the State of Illinois that can earn Career Pathway Endorsements, data gathered across the P-20 Networks suggests that very few students will earn Career Pathway Endorsements this coming spring. At the same time, many school districts are deeply engaged in providing career-focused experiences for students and working toward the full implementation of Career Pathway Endorsements with the following critical elements:
- a sequence of courses aligned to the Career Pathway Endorsement including courses that will offer the possibility of at least 6 hours of postsecondary credit (Dual Credit or Advanced Placement)
- a minimum of 2 Team-Based Challenges that students can experience either through instruction in the aforementioned courses or through extra-curricular activities or other outside experiences
- an in-depth work-based learning experience of a minimum of 60 hours (or 2 micro-internships of at least 30 hours each)
Though, like most school districts, Naperville Community Unit School District 203 does not plan on having students graduate with Career Pathway Endorsements for a few years, the District has already mapped out course sequences for Career Pathway Endorsements. Pictured below is a bulletin board in a hall at Naperville Central High School that outlines two different course sequences for students to work toward an Career Pathway Endorsement in Information Technology.
While educators in Naperville continue to build out other critical elements of the Career Pathway Endorsement, from the outset of their high school experience, students can be inspired by and begin to plan to participate in one of these entire course sequences.
There are a few important lessons from this:
- It’s not too early to plan out course sequences, which can be done at any time, even if you are not able to fully implement the course sequence this year.
- Planning a course sequence early can result in being better able to prepare facilities, equipment and supplies, and professional development well in advance.
- Once a course sequence is planned, it can be shared widely with students and families in order to help them both develop a general awareness of Career Pathway Endorsements and to be able to consider specific course sequences as students are selecting courses (and “trying on” different career ideas).