Lake County Tech Campus – Creating a Team-Based Challenge

The Lake County Tech Campus provides a wide range of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to high school students from throughout Lake and McHenry Counties in Northeastern Illinois. Education is one of the many high quality career areas in which programming is offered at Tech Campus, with a team of three teachers who provide instruction for juniors and seniors in high school. These students, in turn and alongside their professional teachers, provide instruction and learning opportunities three days per week for early childhood students in the specifically designed early childhood classrooms at Tech Campus.

Team-Based Challenge-Career Pathway Endorsement SlideAs part of this work, the Education teacher team decided to incorporate Team-Based Challenges from the Illinois Career Pathway Endorsement model, and the P-20 Network team both facilitated the instructional planning and participated in this effort alongside the Education teachers. The Education teachers identified two potential real-life, complex problems of practice that they believed an in-depth Team-Based Challenge would help their high school students learn and solve and through which they could develop a deeper understanding as potential pre-service teachers. Together, we spent one entire “professional development day” building out the Team-Based Challenge.

First, we explored the key College & Career Pathway Competencies that would be taught and on which students would be assessed. Specifically, both the Essential Cross-Sector Employability Competencies as well as the Human and Public Services Career Pathway Competencies (which are currently defined through EDU-specific competencies) were studied and discussed. After examining all of these competencies, the teachers specifically identified the ones that would be best taught and assessed through the Team-Based Challenge.


Then, the teachers determined how they would assess each of these competencies as well as, through that discussion, beginning to plan instructional lessons and activities that would be embedded in the Team-Based Challenge.

Tech Campus Ed Teachers

Finally, using the Backwards Design Model of instructional planning, multiple assessments were fully built-out prior to the end of the professional development workday.

Ultimately, in one day, the teachers learned more about the Career Pathway Endorsements, identified the competencies that would be taught and assessed, created those specific assessments, and outlined a two-week instructional unit that would serve as a Team-Based Challenge.

For more information about Career Pathway Endorsements or to reach about arranging for professional development and planning support around the Career Pathway Endorsements and Team-Based Challenges, please contact either Brooke ( or Jason ( at the P-20 Network.

Early Childhood Classroom 1

March 2020

Focusing on Career Pathways with an emphasis on individual students’ plans

Belvidere School District 100 has been focused on putting each piece in place to support students’ engagement with the College and Career Pathways.

One of the early key steps in this work was exploring the “crosswalk” (pictured below) between the Postsecondary and Career Expectations Framework (PaCE), the Illinois State Board of Education’s College and Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI), and the College and Career Pathway Endorsements (CCPE) outlined by the Postsecondary Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act.

PaCE-CCRI-CCPE Framework Crosswalk
PaCE-CCRI-CCPE Framework Crosswalk (Click to enlarge)

Belvidere School District 100 knew that they wanted to support student learning and exploration with the Career Pathways and to ensure that students had the requisite knowledge and skills to be successful beyond high school – in postsecondary education and in the workforce. Nik Butenhoff, Director of Career Readiness, said the the framework crosswalk, “supported the hunch that we had. This was the evidence that if we have to track the College and Career Readiness Indicator (for the State), if we just go all-in for the Endorsements, we will then land on the work that we needed to support the Indicators.”

Nik goes on to point out that this work is central to the efforts of teachers and administrators in Belvidere to improve learning, “The stuff that the State is giving us; this is good. These frameworks show how its all intertwined with each other. It is not separate initiatives, but it’s all connected.”

Belvidere School District 100 has developed its own graphic to show the importance of individual planning with each student. The State’s College and Career Pathway Endorsement graphic, which is linked above, also places individual planning at the top of the framework, but the Belvidere viewpoint is to stress it even further as pictured below with the “Individualized Plan” section wrapping around each of the key components.

Belvidere 100 - Career Pathway Endorsement Graphic

In addition to this, students are asked to be thinking about their College and Career Pathway in a number of different ways. One small, easy, yet very powerful, example of this is on student’s Course Selection Form (pictured below). As student’s consider what courses they are requesting for the following school year, they are also asked to think about their desired College and Career Pathway Endorsement area.

Belvidere 100 - Course Selection Sheet with Endorsement Area
Belvidere 100 – Course Selection Sheet with Endorsement Area

In addition to these strategies, the posters pictured with this post are up in the high schools and the middle schools to help students consider the Pathways as they move through the day, and the District 100 Career Guide is offered to students and families in both English and Spanish.

Possibly the most important component in helping make the College and Career Pathways begin to come alive for high school students in District 100 is that all ninth graders are required to complete a Freshman Careers Course, during which a wide range of career exploration and skill-building activities take place.

January 2020

Career Pathways Endorsement – Mapping out the course sequence well in advance in Naperville 203

While the Class of 2020 is the first group of students in the State of Illinois that can earn Career Pathway Endorsements, data gathered across the P-20 Networks suggests that very few students will earn Career Pathway Endorsements this coming spring. At the same time, many school districts are deeply engaged in providing career-focused experiences for students and working toward the full implementation of Career Pathway Endorsements with the following critical elements:

  • a sequence of courses aligned to the Career Pathway Endorsement including courses that will offer the possibility of at least 6 hours of postsecondary credit (Dual Credit or Advanced Placement)
  • a minimum of 2 Team-Based Challenges that students can experience either through instruction in the aforementioned courses or through extra-curricular activities or other outside experiences
  • an in-depth work-based learning experience of a minimum of 60 hours (or 2 micro-internships of at least 30 hours each)

Though, like most school districts, Naperville Community Unit School District 203 does not plan on having students graduate with Career Pathway Endorsements for a few years, the District has already mapped out course sequences for Career Pathway Endorsements. Pictured below is a bulletin board in a hall at Naperville Central High School that outlines two different course sequences for students to work toward an Career Pathway Endorsement in Information Technology.

Naperville 203 - IT Career Pathway Endorsements Career Sequences

While educators in Naperville continue to build out other critical elements of the Career Pathway Endorsement, from the outset of their high school experience, students can be inspired by and begin to plan to participate in one of these entire course sequences.

There are a few important lessons from this:

  1. It’s not too early to plan out course sequences, which can be done at any time, even if you are not able to fully implement the course sequence this year.
  2. Planning a course sequence early can result in being better able to prepare facilities, equipment and supplies, and professional development well in advance.
  3. Once a course sequence is planned, it can be shared widely with students and families in order to help them both develop a general awareness of Career Pathway Endorsements and to be able to consider specific course sequences as students are selecting courses (and “trying on” different career ideas).
November 2019

Hinckley-Big Rock – #AuthenticLearning with Agriculture and Beyond

Hinckley-Big Rock School District 429 is situated in the countryside between Aurora and DeKalb, Illinois. Hinckley-Big Rock has been a leader statewide in building a strong foundation for all students with career readiness and postsecondary options through its implementation of the HBR Career Readiness Plan. This plan, which builds skills and experiences for students from elementary school through high school, was developed within the school district and is based on the Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework.

Not only has Hinckley-Big Rock invested a great deal of time and energy in ensuring that students have experiences and skills to help them make choices about careers and postsecondary learning, but Hinckley-Big Rock also seeks to provide students with authentic learning experiences in which their “classwork” is “real work”. While this is desired across the curriculum and all courses, these efforts are most noticeable within the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Pathway.

Hinckley - Big Rock Future Farmers of America Wagon

Like many school districts in Illinois, Hinckley-Big Rock has a rich history with providing students with authentic learning experiences through extra-curricular activities. With the understanding that such experiences can lead to deeper, more complex and longer lasting learning, ensuring that students learn through authentic problem-based units and lessons is a priority. Hinckley-Big Rock is furthering these efforts with a multi-year initiative to take advantage of the size of its property and expand the resources available for student learning on the working farm on the east side of the high school building.

Over the past couple of years, a small orchard has been planted and water and electrical have been added and/or upgraded. Next, a building will be added to support the fully functional agricultural operations in which students participate as part of their coursework and learning.Hinckley - Big Rock Water Pump - Outdoor Agriculture Classroom

Being able to fully experience the work allows students to learn both career-specific knowledge and skills as well as develop the type of skills that are needed across careers as defined by the Cross-Sector Essential Employability Competencies (see page 6 of this PDF).

These efforts are not limited to just agriculture nor Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at Hinckley-Big Rock, but they are also noticeable outside the building as Indian Valley Vocational Center CTE students also construct the actual dug-outs that generations of student-athletes will use for decades to come.

Hinckley - Big Rock Dugout Construction Tweet

October 2019

Rochelle – Mapping out success for the future during high school

Like other schools, Rochelle Township High School District 212 has embarked on a focus to ensure that all of its students are thinking forward beyond high school while they are still in high school. This effort is focused both on helping ensure that students know, understand, and have a variety of postsecondary options while also participating in significant and ongoing planning and counseling during high school.

At Rochelle High School, which is located about 20 miles directly west of DeKalb, Illinois, a series of key indicators for future success have been identified, and together these have been termed the Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile (pictured here below).

Rochelle Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile - Cover
Rochelle Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile – Cover

Rochelle Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile - Interior
Rochelle Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile – Interior

Following each semester, student information in the Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile is updated by school staff and shared with all students and parents. This ongoing education allows students and parents to keep up-to-date on their progress, and it has the secondary benefit of making the Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile a living tool in the lives of students and families.

Many schools and school districts are embracing the creation of a holistic view of a student that includes learning critical skills that go beyond traditional academics. For example, one way that these are now defined in Illinois as a result of the Postsecondary & Workforce Readiness Act is through both the Cross-Sector Essential Employability Competencies and the Entrepreneurial Competencies (see page 6 of this document). Rochelle has included these skills that are so critical for both careers and citizenship as the Efficient, Adaptive, and Self-Reliant Learner Behaviors. Where Rochelle goes one step further is by having teachers assess students in each of these areas and, most importantly, asking students to self-assess in each of these areas.

Alongside what courses a student has taken and their personal and career interests, the Tomorrow Readiness Student Profile provides a strong foundation on which students and their families, counselors, and teachers can engage in detailed discussions about both an individual student’s strengths as well as the target areas for additional growth during their high school experience and beyond.

October 2019