Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Yvonne Boose – Radio Journalist

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 episode, we interview Yvonne Boose, who today is a radio journalist at WNIJ, a public radio station that is based at Northern Illinois University. During her senior year at Bogan High School, Yvonne took her Grandfather advice. She went on to study Speech Communication at Chicago State University, where she learned radio and television production.

After graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree, Yvonne began working in customer service for Ameritech, a large telecommunications company in the Midwest at that time that was formerly part of AT&T and remain connected to AT&T in a number of ways. While Yvonne continued to earn promotions for her work, she also continued to desire a career in journalism. During this time period, she was able to begin an internship with AT&T Cable where she covered local stories on a television show called Hometown Edition. This internship confirmed for Yvonne that she did want to pursue journalism, so she went to Roosevelt University and earned a Master’s Degree in journalism. With her Master’s Degree, she obtained another internship at Beacon News in Aurora before moving into her current role at WNIJ.

Yvonne’s work as a journalist is part of the Arts & Communication Career Pathway.

In this video, Yvonne shares how her customer service skills have helped her make connections as a journalist with sources that are critical to telling honest and complete stories. She also talks about the need for students to be willing to take up volunteer and internship positions in order to build their experiences. Yvonne emphasizes that the following skills are critical to have success as a journalist: integrity, the ability to build honest and positive relationships with others, strong listening skills, robust organizational skills, the ability to accept feedback with a positive attitude, and having a hunger for new knowledge.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode with journalist Yvonne Boose.

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

January 2021

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Cora Pauli – Electrical Engineer

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 episode, we interview Cora Pauli, who is an electrical engineer at HBK Engineering. HBK Engineering is regarded as one of COMED’s three most preferred companies to work with for project design. At an early age, Cora realized her love for mathematics and science and took the advice of her high school swimming coach at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School to study engineering in college. While in college, she interned with an engineering company where she learned about designing electrical distribution systems as well as learning AutoCAD. This experience contributed to her career choice as an electrical engineer.  In her current role at HBK Engineering, Cora works in the power sector and handles projects that focus on the design of electrical distribution systems, specifically Cora’s work focuses on what takes place between the electrical substation and the customer’s business or home.

The work that Cora does on a daily basis is a part of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway.

In this video, Cora shares with us some interesting facts about being a woman in the STEM field. She also talks about the need for young graduates who are interested in this field to love numbers and understand the basics of electrical engineering but to also possess a strong willingness to learn and ask questions. In addition to being forthcoming with questions, other essential skills for new electrical engineers to have include strong problem solving and communication skills. From crawling through manhole covers under streets in Downtown Chicago to projects that take place in Illinois’ corn and soybean fields, Cora is pleased to help provide people with consistent, reliable electricity using modern tools, like connected gear.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video with electrical engineer Cora Pauli.

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

December 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Audrey Romito – Domestic Violence Program Coordinator

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 episode, we interview Audrey Romito, who is a Domestic Violence Program Coordinator at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Audrey continued her education after high school focused on the world of cosmetology. She became a licensed hair stylist, and for a time, she worked as a hair stylist. In looking for a change, she found a position with Kane County, where she began working on issues related to domestic violence, and from there, her interest for working with victims of domestic violence grew into a career. In her current role, Audrey engages in a wide range of tasks and responsibilities with regards to supporting victims of domestic violence from coordinating services to providing counseling.

The work that Audrey does as a Domestic Violence Program Coordinator is part of the Human and Public Services Career Pathway, though Audrey’s work, particularly in the context of the hospital setting in which she works can also be viewed as part of the Health and Technology Career Pathway.

In this episode, Audrey discusses her unique experiences between her graduation from Kaneland High School and her career that she loves so much today. Audrey highlights the fact that her work is unpredictable from one day to the next, and there is a danger of experiencing professional burn-out for those working with victims of domestic violence as is the case in many occupations in the Human and Public Services Career Pathway. To minimize this risk for herself, Audrey focuses on both meeting people where they are at and the little victories toward helping those with whom she is working become more independent. Audrey also stresses that the following essential skills are critical to success in her work: active listening, setting and reflecting on realistic goals, and being respectful of other people.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video with Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Audrey Romito.

We apologize about the audio issues in the closing minutes of this episode. We decided to leave Audrey’s important answers in the video despite the audio issues that resulted from our video conference software solution.

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

November 2020

Amplifying Solutions – Tips for New Administrators

Amplifying-Solutions-Series-Logo-Only-with-Border

Each episode of Amplifying Solutions focuses on questions and challenges from practitioners, primarily current graduate students earning their degrees to become the next generation of principals, school business leaders, and superintendents, as well as those students who are earning their doctoral degrees. In response to these questions, experts are brought together to discuss solutions and strategies. The complete video conversation is included below.


In this episode of Amplifying Solutions, Dr. Susan Homes from the Illinois Principals’ Association and Dr. Courtney Orzel from the Illinois Association of School Administrators discuss tips to help new school leaders, as well as veteran administrators, be successful. While the context is specifically geared toward the COVID-19 pandemic, as is discussed in the video, these tips are relevant and applicable at any time.

The same keys to success

While the COVID-19 Pandemic presents unique challenges that have placed tremendous stress on school systems and all of the individuals in them, from students and families to teachers and staff to school administrators, Dr. Homes and Dr. Orzel point out that the keys to being successful during the Pandemic are the same keys to being successful at any time. These include:

  • Build relationships first – Be certain to know people as individuals, to understand and appreciate the community (or in many cases, the various communities that make up a school or district), learn the politics and dynamics of decision-making, and establish trust, respect, and fairness.
  • Be genuine – People, including students, see through ego and falsehoods. Identify your core values and stick to them. (One tip is to ask your immediate family what they think your core values are, and you can check their answers against your own. Their answers are likely to reveal patterns in your daily actions.)
  • Personalize the work – Students and staff members alike will learn more and do better when work has been personalized according to their needs and interests. Ask students and staff members directly about their needs and interests, and then follow-through to make adjustments based on what they have told you.
Taking care of yourself

It has become a common refrain to tell leaders to take care of themselves and to remind leaders that they cannot be successful for others if they are not staying well. At the same time, for many school administrators knowing that this is true is one thing while putting it into practice on a consistent, ongoing basis is much more difficult. Some tips include:

  • Take advantage of professional resources focused on wellness – For example, IASA has launched its Mindfulness Matters series for its members.
  • Find your group – Connect with colleagues who face the same challenges and pressures and be there to support one another. Text each other to simply see how others are doing. Call a colleague to check-in on the way to or from work. Make these routine parts of your day.
  • Hold each other accountable for being well – Take a few minutes and eat your lunch. Drink water throughout the day. Exercise and know that the time you are spending doing so will help you be more productive and more positive (and more likely to stay well physically, too). Along with the colleagues in the aforementioned group, remind one another to take these steps each day. Ask each other if you did. If not, help brainstorm how to do so tomorrow.
Get important things done – and done well

With the busy competing demands that school leaders face, prioritizing is always important, and during the Pandemic, it is more important than ever. Schools and districts must continually ask themselves, “What are our most important goals and needs for students?” Then, when faced with new or additional requests, it is critical to ask, “Will this new task still allow me to focus on successfully accomplishing the priorities that we set?”

To help ensure that you follow through with the priorities, some of the suggestions in the video include the following:

  • Use your calendar – Block out the time in your calendar to complete the tasks that are your priorities. If being in classrooms (in-person or remote/online) is an important part of your plan to improve student learning, time to be in classrooms must be blocked out in your calendar and maintained as a priority.
  • Work with your colleagues – Most schools and districts are full of dedicated, smart people. As a school or district leader, you do not have to know or do everything. Share work with your colleagues wherever and whenever it is appropriate with their jobs. At the same time, you have to balance this by also protecting their time as the leader to ensure that they can maintain their focus on completing the tasks that align with the organization’s priorities for students.
  • Follow-through – The work does not get done if you do not follow-through and complete it. This also includes being sure to close communication loops, so teachers and staff, families, and students know that the work is complete.
Looking to the future

In thinking about the long-term lessons from COVID-19 and the changes that schools can and should implement, Dr. Homes and Dr. Orzel identified the following key points:

  • Identify what is most important and focus on those priorities
  • Doing less will result in doing more
  • Focus on equity and ensuring that real opportunities are available for all students and for each student
  • Emphasize personalization to make learning meaningful and to ensure that everyone feels connected and part of their school community
  • Identify the strengths of the school or district, and then work hard to do those things even better
  • Focus on supporting teachers–They have the biggest impact on student learning
  • Trust that educators can do great work regardless of where they are in their career journey – from their first year to their last year
  • Emphasize the importance of adaptability for all educators
Resources
November 2020

Amplifying Solutions – Creativity in staffing with COVID-19

Each episode of Amplifying Solutions focuses on questions and challenges from practitioners, primarily current graduate students earning their degrees to become the next generation of principals, school business leaders, and superintendents, as well as those students who are earning their doctoral degrees. In response to these questions, experts are brought together to discuss solutions and strategies. The complete video conversation is included below.


In this episode of Amplifying Solutions, Monica Schroeder from North Shore School District 112 and Matt Zediker from Rockford Public School District 205 discuss their organization’s approaches to staffing during the very dynamic COVID-19 Pandemic. When schools initially moved to remote learning in March 2020, staffing plans for the 2020-2021 school year were nearly complete. Over the next five months leading up to the start of this school year, school districts continued to face changing guidelines and a wide range of expectations, opinions, and pressures from various stakeholder groups.

Each school district offered teachers the opportunity to apply to serve as remote learning teachers.

Planning for Multiple Schedules

Like districts throughout Illinois, both NSSD112 and RPS205 had to plan for students who would be learning remotely and for students who would be learning in-person at times as part of a hybrid model.

Both districts were going to require a significant number of teachers that would be assigned to remote teaching positions as a result of surveys of families during the summer of 2020, and this resulted in the need to move staff members into positions different from those in which they had originally been assigned.

From these initial experiences, the following keys to successfully navigating this COVID-19 environment emerged:

  • Listening – Having relationships already in place prior to the crisis provides a strong foundation for success. Then, it is critical for leaders to intentionally build time in their schedules to be in schools listening to staff members concerns and challenges and questions.
  • Empathy – School leaders must put themselves in the shoes of others from staff members to students to parents. When a leader can deeply understand the challenges (and feelings) that others face, they are able to craft solutions that better address a wider range of issues, and they are better able to communicate those solutions to stakeholders.
  • Collaboration – Collaboration among and with union leaders, board members, and administrators on a consistent and ongoing basis is critical to creating solutions that will meet the needs of each school district as well as successfully implementing those solutions.
  • Articulate why – While specific people may not always like certain decisions, if they understand the rationale behind the decision, how it benefits students, and why it is a fair decision and/or a good use of limited resources, they will typically accept, and even support, the decision.
  • Know the law – The pandemic has brought with it unique scenarios related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Additionally, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act resulted in additional, important legal parameters for school leaders to know. As is mentioned in the discussion, school law firms have provided a significant amount of ongoing, free professional development to support school leaders since the start of the pandemic.

In thinking about the long-term take-aways for the future of education, the following items were identified as being important areas of emphasis in a post-COVID-19 world of learning:

  • Emphasize learning and de-emphasize seat time; Focus on supporting all students with achieving outcomes
  • Continue focusing on the importance of social and emotional learning
  • Be flexible
  • Be creative
  • Continue to foster an “all-hands on-deck” culture, including having families be integrated into our learning processes
  • Remind teachers and staff that they won’t be able to be everything to everyone and support them in being the best that they can be right now.
November 2020

Launching Amplifying Solutions

The Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Foundations (LEPF) in the Northern Illinois University College of Education has joined forces with the Illinois P-20 Network to launch a series of videos, web-based events, and blog posts on important topics that have been identified by current teachers and administrators who are also graduate students in and alumni of LEPF programs.

The videos, events and blog posts that result from this partnership will be available publicly, and educators are encouraged to share this content throughout their professional networks.

Initial episodes are being recorded at this time, and content will begin being posted this week both in the Newsfeed of the P-20 Network website and on the P-20 Network YouTube Channel.

November 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Denise Hoth – Surgical Instrument Specialist Management

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 episode, we interview Denise Hoth, who is a surgical instrument specialist that has now also become the manager of a team of surgical instrument specialists. As is discussed in the episode, surgical instrument specialists maintain and repair a wide range of tools used in surgery. Denise became a surgical tech after attending school at Triton College, and as a result of her work in that field, she had the opportunity to move into becoming a surgical instrument specialist. In this episode, Denise explains that her pathway to her current role is one of many potential avenues is as evidenced by the range of background experiences of her team of surgical instrument specialists.

The work that Denise does as a surgical instrument specialist. is part of both the Health & Technology and the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathways. Given the time she spends managing financial, operational, and human resources issues, her work is also part of the Business & Finance Career Pathway.

In this episode, Denise explains the nature of the work that surgical instrument specialists do each day, including their working environment in the mobile service labs in the box truck that each surgical instrument specialist on her team drives. Denise explains how it is important that everyone in this role has strong mechanical skills, and that it is important to have integrity, strong verbal communication skills, and be able to work independently. Denise also stresses that this is a field with quite a bit of opportunity, and that a focus on customer service is the number one priority for each employee in her company.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video with surgical instrument specialist and manager Denise Hoth.

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

November 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Miles Robinson – VR QA Analyst

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 episode, we interview Miles Robinson, who is a Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst on Facebook’s Oculus team. Oculus has been widely regarded as the leading virtual reality (VR) headset technology, and the QA team plays an incredibly important role in trying to minimize the bugs that are released in the complex combination of hardware and software. Miles grew up in Chicago and attended Whitney Young High School and studied pre-law as an undergraduate while also learning coding and software development, building on a long-time interest in computers and information technology (and video games). After earning his Bachelor’s Degree, Miles engaged in a submersive experience to learn software development in great detail that led to his career in IT and ultimately to his current role at Facebook.

The work Miles does on a daily basis is part of the Information Technology Career Pathway.

In this video, Miles stresses the importance of being adaptable and a team player. Miles also emphasizes that coding is not easy. It is complex work that requires a significant amount of study and a high degree of perseverance. At the same time, Miles strongly suggests that if you believe in yourself and do the hard work, you can be successful with this type of job.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video with Virtual Reality Quality Assurance Analyst Miles Robinson.

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

October 2020

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

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

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

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Brian Pekron – Wind Farm Operations

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 Brian Pekron, who is in Wind Farm Operations. Originally earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nuclear Engineering, Brian and a partner created a manufacturing company that designed an improved mixing nozzle for adhesives. Recently, Brain came back to working in the energy field with his new role in Wind Farming. In this role, Brian is involved in everything from planning to implementation, and his work ranges from managing financial projections and reports to working with suppliers and ensuring that wind turbines are fully operational.

Brian’s work in Wind Farm Operations and his range of job responsibilities keeps his work firmly rooted in both the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Trades Career Pathway and the Business and Finance Career Pathway.

To be successful in his work, Brian has developed skills and competencies ranging from coding to deep understanding of the science behind energy to finance. For students, Brian speaks of the tremendous opportunities available in the fast-growing fields of wind and solar energy as well as of the need to gain exposure to many different careers while in school.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads interview with Brian Pekron about wind farm operations.

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

April 2020

P-20 Network Virtual Spring Meeting

Our Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting was originally scheduled for April 23, 2020, at NIU Naperville. Due to the shelter-in-place order in Illinois as a result of COVID-19, the Spring P-20 Network Meeting has been moved to an asynchronous virtual event. While this format unfortunately requires us to miss out on the face-to-face discussions that are such a critical part of the P-20 Network, we are excited to share a number of the previously planned presentations as videos that can be viewed across the P-20 Network and beyond.

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

Transitional English – More info coming soon!
In the coming weeks, we also look forward to hosting a webinar about proposed competencies for Transitional English that have been developed by a group composed of stakeholders from across school districts, postsecondary institutions, and state agencies throughout Illinois.

Meeting Evaluation
After watching the videos, please take a few minutes to provide feedback using this short form on your P-20 Network experience as well as on the needs of your organization moving forward.

NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative
From statewide research projects to working with districts of all sizes on their research and data needs, the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative is excited to offer a wide range of services and partnerships to advance knowledge and practice. Learn more about the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative, and contact us for more information about specific projects.

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

Fall 2020 P-20 Network Meeting
Finally, plan now to attend the Fall 2020 P-20 Network Meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2020, at the Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center on-campus at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

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

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Molly Levy – Fintech Product 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 video, we interview Molly Levy, who is Vice President for Product at Liberis, a Fintech company working with small businesses. Fintech refers to the sub-sector of companies that focus on developing and implementing information technology solutions from hardware to software that create new or enhance existing financial products. Molly, who is from Chicago’s Northern Suburbs but now lives and works in London in the United Kingdom, leads the team that is responsible for the creation and ongoing development of products at Liberis, a company which focuses their efforts of providing capital to small businesses.

As a leader of a Fintech company, Molly’s current role as the Vice President for Product as being in both the Business & Finance Career Pathway as well as the Information Technology Career Pathway.

While Molly grew up in Suburban Chicago, from there, her career has taken her to San Francisco and now to London, and through these experiences Molly has learned a great deal about the importance of being flexible and about being able to work with others from different cultures, which Molly discusses in this video. Molly has learned about and stresses the importance of the feedback loop. In the case of her company that feedback loop is specifically between customers and the design team, and it results in an iterative design process through which products are always being improved. Molly’s key advice to current students to find value in all of your work place experiences and to view them as opportunities to learn and improve.

Watch this interview with Molly Levy, Vice President-Product at Liberis.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Lisa Sharp – Architect

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 video, we interview Lisa Sharp, an architect who owns her own architecture firm based out of DeKalb, Illinois, USA. Lisa provides an overview of the workflow of architecture from obtaining work through the design and planning phases and, of course, on to construction. With experience doing a wide range of work, including the restoration of the historic Egyptian Theater in Downtown DeKalb, Lisa is able to provide students with an understanding of all aspects of being an architect.

As an architect, Lisa works in the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway. As the owner of her own firm, her job also exists in the Business and Finance Career Pathway.

From a very young age (6 years old!), Lisa remembers wanting to be an architect. She has always liked drawing, math, and being with people – all of which are necessary to be successful as an architect. She describes the role of an architect as being like the conductor of a band as one works with other professionals across a broad range of job types from engineers to interior designer to construction workers. Despite the fact that 98% of her work is completed on a computer today, Lisa still stresses that drawing is a critical skill for success, and she says it is also very important to have a strong imagination and to be very good at thinking ahead and planning.

Watch this interview with architect Lisa Sharp.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Desiree Battaglia – Communications-Media Relations

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 video, we interview Desiree Battaglia, a media relations specialist at Northwestern Medicine. Desiree recently moved into this role after serving as the Manager of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for Wilton Brands. In both of these roles, Desiree has worked with everything from media outlets ranging from television stations to magazines as she has worked to tell stories for each of these organizations while inspiring others as they engage with that work.

As a communications specialist, Desiree’s work would be classified as being in the Human & Public Services Career Pathway, though currently her work is also directly related to the Health Science & Technology Career Pathway as the stories she is telling are that of a major healthcare and hospital network in Chicagoland.

During the interview, Desiree shared her experiences in serving as a member of the staff of the school newspaper in high school, and then, she worked at both the newspaper and the television station while attending Northern Illinois University. Even prior to those experiences, she always had a love for making speeches and doing presentations, and these personal interests and school experiences all aligned perfectly with her career.  From this, she advises students to turn their “passion into a career” while also telling students that relationship-building, follow-through, writing and communications skills, and being resilient are all critical to career success as a communications professional.

Watch this interview with media relations specialist Desiree Smith.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Laura Rice – Microbiologist

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 video, we interview Laura Rice, a microbiologist who holds a PhD., has over a dozen patents, and has published dozens of technical articles. Laura works for the Nalco Water division of Ecolab, a very large international corporation. In Laura’s role, she leads teams that solve problems in the Paper and Pulp industry to ensure that machines can work efficiently in creating everything from office paper to the cardboard used in pizza boxes. Through these efforts, there is less waste, which not only increases profitability for companies, but it also results in environmental benefits as a greater percentage of the trees harvested for paper turn into product rather than end up wasted.

As a microbiologist working in the paper industry, Laura’s work would be classified as being in either the Agriculture Food, and Natural Resources and/or the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathways.

During the interview, Laura talks about being a shy student who was afraid to take the risk to ask questions in class, and she encourages all students to ask teachers at all levels for help. She highlights many of the essential skills that are vital to success in her workplace stressing that it is important to be a problem solver and to be persistent in your efforts. Above all else, Laura tells students that collaboration and communication are critical each day. When thinking about entry level positions that students will have they begin their careers, Laura reminds students that regardless of the task on which they are working, it is important to understand why it is important and to always welcome feedback as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Watch this interview with microbiologist Laura Rice.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Arthur Mingo – Attorney

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 video, we interview Arthur Mingo, an attorney who has recently started his own practice in Chicagoland. Arthur goes into great deal about law school teaching students to think like attorneys and about the process of taking and passing the Bar Exam. Arthur also talks about how, like a doctor who is a general practitioner or family doctor, an attorney with a new, small practice will likely take a wide variety of cases before possibly specializing in a particular area of legal work.

As an attorney, Arthur’s work would be classified as being in the Human and Public Services Career Pathway.

Arthur stresses a number of important points to students when considering becoming an attorney. First, Arthur emphasizes that the work of most attorneys most of the time does not look like it appears on television and in movies. Second, Arthur points out that while his degree from the Law School at Southern Illinois University might not be considered as prestigious as an Ivy League Law School, he learned from the same books and got a very strong legal education while also earning scholarships and strengthening his financial future.

Arthur also notes that being argumentative is not the most important skill to becoming a good attorney. Rather, it is important that one truly listens to their clients, returns phone calls, and is a strong reader and writer.

Learn more about what it’s like to be an attorney by watching this interview with Arthur Mingo.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Elizabeth Stanley – Broadway Star

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 video, we interview Elizabeth Stanley, who is currently starring in the production of Jagged Little Pill on Broadway in New York City. Elizabeth grew up in Western Illinois attending Camp Point Central High School, and she holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University. In addition to singing, dancing, and acting in live theater productions, Elizabeth has appeared in many television shows. From her work in regional theater to the biggest stages in the United States, Elizabeth’s job is her dream job and a dream for many. In this interview, though, Elizabeth also stresses all of the related careers that are necessary to create and maintain live theater, providing opportunities for people with all kinds of interests and skills to be involved in a career in the Arts.

As an actress, Elizabeth’s work would be classified as being in the Arts & Communications Career Pathway.

In addition to describing what life looks while performers are looking for jobs as well as once they are in a production, Elizabeth offers a number of key tips for students that are not only important for those considering a career in the Arts but that align with the Essential Skills and are relevant to all Career Pathways.

  • Be as prepared as possible
  • Be Self-Motivated
  • Be resilient and persevere; Develop one’s self-esteem
  • Be thoughtful with one’s finances and save regularly

Watch our P-20 Network interview with actress Elizabeth Stanley on YouTube.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Brigette Wolf – Snack Food Innovator & Leader

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 video, we interview Brigette Wolf, the Head of Snack Futures Innovation at Mondelez International. In Brigette’s role, she works with and learns from customers and retailers in order to understand their needs, and she leads a diverse team that seeks to create new products that will be exciting to consumers with an emphasis on new ideas and sustainability. Brigette also provides her advice to students about beginning their own career journeys.

As an executive in the food industry, Brigette’s work would be classified as being in either the Agriculture Food, and Natural Resources and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Brigette specifically identifies that critical thinking, the ability to listen, and being good at asking questions are all essential skills that are necessary in her work. In a job that routinely sees her traveling around the world, literally to different continents each week and back home on the weekends, she also must be able to work with both teammates and customers from around the world. Brigette has identified that having the “agility to learn” is vital to her ongoing success, and like each of the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads guests before her, she cites work ethic is being a must-have characteristic to achieve in her career.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Jim Daly – Chemist & Corporate Leader

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 video, we interview Jim Daly, the Vice President of Global FloraLife and Corporate Research at Smithers-Oasis. Among other products, FloraLife is the company behind the packets of flower food that come with bouqets of flowers at the supermarket, and in this video, Jim talks about everything from the science behind extending the storage life of apples to the process of innovation.

As a chemist-turned-executive, Jim’s work would be classified as being in either the Agriculture Food, and Natural Resources and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Jim stresses the importance of consistent hard work over a long period of time as a key to success in any career. He talks about learning as much as possible when you are young and taking advantage of formal learning opportunities, so you can build upon those once you are in the workplace. Jim also emphasizes how exciting it is to innovate and create while also stating that, in his experience, leading people is more complex than solving problems with chemicals.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

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

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Marco Casalaina – IT Leader & AI Innovator

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 video, we interview Marco Casalaina, the Senior Vice President – Product – Einstein at Salesforce.com. Marco is in charge of a global team working on Salesforce’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) efforts, and he talks about his work, the most important skills for himself and his team members, and provides advice to students about their own career pathways.

As a computer scientist and executive, Marco’s work would be classified as being in either the Information Technology and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Marco also discusses the importance of cross-cultural competence as he leads a global team with offices in the United Stands, France, Israel, and India, and he identifies two key skills for students to develop regardless of their particular career interests – communication and creativity.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

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

March 2020

Career Pathways – Virtual Trailheads – Exploring Careers Online

With the unprecedented move to remote learning necessary about the shelter-in-place orders tied to COVID-19, the P-20 Network had previously offered suggestions about how career exploration could continue while students are learning at home. From the dialogue that this post generated, we are excited to announce that we are launching a new series on YouTube – Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads.

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

Teachers can benefit from the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos in two ways. First, these videos serve as a resource that can be used as we engage students in remote learning in the short-term as well as in online, blended, or traditional learning environments in the future. Second, these videos can provide brief virtual externship experiences for teachers to hear about careers and workplaces outside of education in order to ensure that our instruction is as relevant and engaging as possible for our students and their futures.

For each interview, we will post a corresponding blog post. Videos and blog posts will begin to be shared during the week of March 30, 2020. To keep up-to-date:

March 2020

Spring 2020 Meeting – Moving Online

Our Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting was originally scheduled for April 23rd at NIU Naperville. Due to the continued shelter-in-place order in Illinois, the Spring P-20 Network Meeting will not be held face-to-face on April 23rd.

We are excited to share that we will have many of our presentations available as videos online, and we plan to release these videos on April 23rd. The videos will be publicly available for your organizations to view. More details will be shared as we get closer to April 23rd.

March 2020

PASS Summit again brings educators together to focus on College and Career Readiness

The Sauk Valley Partnership Advocating Student Success (PASS) hosted their 5th annual College and Career Readiness Summit on Friday, February 7, 2020 at Sauk Valley Community College. The day highlighted the combination of policies, programs, partnerships and practitioners in pursuit of a community-focused approach to college and career readiness. Highlights from the day include the keynote from Tim Farquer, Superintendent and Curriculum Director for Williamsfield Schools, one of the first competency-based pilot schools. Tim explained how the district focus on students attaining needed skills, completing career pathways and participating in local partnerships has resulted in the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards rising from 34% to 50% in the past four years. Instead of arranging students by age, students are arranged according to graduation outcomes. Students can choose to complete an associates degree by the time they graduate from high school, college credits, trade certifications or work-based experiences.

Another key to the attainment of competency-based education is identifying acceleration points in various subjects. When students reach these benchmarks, they identify opportunities to accelerate through work that they have already learned. A continual focus on “this is where I am but this is where I want to go and this is how I will get there” has permeated the district such that even parent conferences are now led by the students themselves.

Tim states “Our approach to career pathways leverages student’s passions to drive core skills farther & faster, positioning themselves for success after high school.” For more information about  competency-based education in Williamsfield, contact Tim Farquer at tim.farquer@billtown.org

The day also included “policymaker speed dating” in which state and local policy-makers met with practitioners in a round-robin format. Policymakers answered questions about how practitioners and policymakers can work closely together and then listened to the practitioners’ perspective on the issue. Topics included competency education, students ready for life after graduation, career pathways, limitations of rural settings, and more. Janis Jones said, “The structure of policy speed dating forced participants to be thoughtful and articulate in their comments. It allowed policy makers to hear directly from those who attempt to implement the policies, and created great dialogue. Both sides benefited.”

PASS Summit 2020 - Alan Clemens presenting the Illinois Postsecondary Profiles website

Business and industry representatives joined the group for lunch and then the afternoon included several break out sessions. Topics ranged from learning more about Transitional Math to Career Pathway Endorsements to the IllinoisPostsecondaryProfiles.com website. These breakout sessions not only provided conference attendees with opportunities to learn from the presenters, but there were also many instances in which great value also came from what educators shared with one another through discussion.

Sauk Valley Community College and Regional Office of Education 47 (Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside Counties) ended the day with an announcement that they had been awarded funding through the Illinois Community College Board’s Transitional Instruction-English Pilot Project grant. Click here to read more and to view the grant awardees from across Illinois.

February 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