Information about applying for Career Pathway Endorsements for the 2021-2022 school year!

The ISBE College & Career Pathways Endorsement website has been updated and includes a variety of resources that will assist those with their plans to implement/offer pathway endorsements to students. Included among these resources are an updated ISBE College and Career Pathway Endorsement Framework and the ISBE Pathway Endorsement Infographic.

Should schools wish to begin building plans within the online web tool, they would need to contact Heather Strom at the Illinois State Board of Education so that she can provide the school district with a link to the web tool (Email: pathwayendorsements@isbe.net​). Please note that first, the school district would want to gather the necessary information using the Excel spreadsheet. This will make data entry easier and more accurate.

Also, if you are planning on issuing any Career Pathway Endorsements for FY21, you will need to complete the FY21 application and district projections that are found on the ISBE CCPE website.

In corresponding about this important announcement, Heather said, “I’m very excited to be working with schools and applaud their efforts to offer pathway endorsements to their students!” Obviously, the Illinois P-20 Network echoes this sentiment. If you have questions, please reach out to Heather at the email address included above, but please feel free to contact us as well as the team at Education Systems Center as we can continue to work collaboratively to support both ISBE and all of you working in school districts.

April 2021

More Draft Model Programs of Study Guides Released

This week, drafts of four new Model Programs of Study Guides were released in the following areas: 

Public comments are encouraged and should be made through this Public Comment Form through June 5, 2021. There will also be an introductory webinar held on April 16, 2021 at 11 AM. Click here to register for the webinar. 

These Model Programs of Study Guides were developed through a process that was sponsored by the Illinois Community College Board and implemented in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education. Education Systems Center led this process. The first four Model Programs of Study Guides were published during the Summer of 2020, and they are: 

April 2021

Occupational Profiles launch on Illinois Postsecondary Profiles website


The Illinois Postsecondary Profiles (IPP) website originally launched in October 2019 with the first of three major elements available to the public at the time of its launch – Institutional Profiles. Learn more about the original phase of the IPP website from October 2019.


Today, the Illinois Postsecondary Profiles website rolls out a number of major features as the second major phase of the site’s development.

  • Occupational Profiles, which provides users with opportunities to explore occupations and/or postsecondary areas of study (i.e., topics in which students major in college) by the 7 Illinois Career Pathways or by a keyword search or area of interest. Data about occupations is linked with both data regarding related areas of study and the postsecondary institutions in Illinois that offer these areas of study. Together, this provides a rich set of easy-to-access data that is unique among tools of this kind.
IPP Occupation Profiles Home
  • Regional Profiles, which utilizes an interactive map (also known as a choropleth) that is currently organized by Illinois’ community college district boundaries, to display completion, enrollment, and population data. In the future, additional data sets and geographic boundary regions will be available for website visitors.
IPP Choropleth
  • IPP Data Center – A centerpiece of the IPP website since its debut has been the ability to download data presented on the website in its entirety. Given that this data comes directly from Illinois’ state agencies responsible for postsecondary education, being able to easily access these complete data sets is a great benefit to researchers in Illinois and around the world. With this release, the IPP Data Center has been significantly expanded with additional data available for download.
IPP Data Center

In a future release, the final major originally planned component of the Illinois Postsecondary Profiles will launch – Equity Profiles, which will support the exploration of data from postsecondary education across Illinois based on student demographic information.

January 2021

Career Pathways Student Conversations – Geneseo High School

Earlier in December, Travis Mackey, the principal at Geneseo (IL) High School, presented to the Illinois P-20 Network’s Career Pathways User Group about the development and use of the Alumni Career Connections feature of the Geneseo H.S. website.

As a follow-up, we met with four high school seniors from Geneseo High School to learn from them about their plans for postsecondary education and careers and to gain a better understanding of how they use their Alumni Career Connections tool. As is essentially always the case when listening to students speak about their experiences, there are a wide range of lessons shared by these students for educators to consider when planning in their own schools.

At the time of the publication of this video and blog post in December 2020, three of the four high school seniors were still in the process of finalizing their postsecondary plans. In each case, these students are planning on attending four-year universities, though these students recognized the importance of career exploration for all students and the important role that a wide range of postsecondary education options play in serving all students today.

Looking to the future, ultimately, all four of these high school seniors were steadfast in their commitment to prioritizing a love for one’s work and the need to make a difference for others as the ultimate considerations in selecting their careers and courses of study to prepare them for success in these careers.

December 2020

Alumni as Career Exploration Resources

In referencing college & career choices,

“We tried to figure out a way that our students could figure it out…”

Travis Mackey, Principal – Geneseo High School

Illinois’ Geneseo High School launched a website for both current students and alumni called Geneseo High School Alumni Career Connections that serves as a key component of the school’s career exploration efforts for and with students. This site connects graduates from Geneseo High School, which is about 25 miles west of the Mississippi River, the Quad Cities, and the Illinois/Iowa border, with one another and, most importantly, with current students. Through the Alumni Career Connections website, Geneseo alumni become a resource for career exploration for current high school students, who all engage with the Alumni Career Connections website systemically as part of their classes.

The full video presentation from the Illinois P-20 Network Career Pathways User Group is below, and this post continues below the video. For more information on the Illinois P-20 Network Career Pathways User Group, contact us via email.

The Alumni Career Connections Website – A tool that facilitates connections

Geneseo High School worked with a local website design company that already serves as their website provider to build out the custom Alumni Career Connections Website tool, which includes a survey for alumni to share their information, a database back-end, and a website with search parameters, an interactive map, and the search results and information that alumni have entered. At the time of this writing, there are currently almost 1,000 Geneseo alumni who have voluntarily submitted profiles. (For context, Geneseo High School currently serves just under 900 students according to the Illinois State Board of Education Illinois Report Card.) The school has a goal of doubling this to 2,000 alumni profiles.

Alumni are emailed and encouraged to provide their profiles and serve as a resource to current students, and even once in the database, reminder emails are sent every three years in order to ensure profiles are kept up-to-date as people change jobs and move from one location to another. Additionally, it should be noted that a Geneseo Community Unit School District 228 team must clean-up and verify each submission individually. (For example, this is one way to ensure that postsecondary institutions are listed in a single consistent format rather than having some respondents list Northern Illinois University as NIU while others write Northern.)

Systemically integrated into instruction

Teachers throughout the school use the Alumni Career Connections website in order to bring alumni into the classroom as experts who serve as guest speakers for students. Additionally, as teachers connect with alumni in specific fields, they actively reflect on the alignment between what and how they are teaching and the current reality of different types of workplaces. As a result of those conversations with former students, teachers make adjustments to their own instruction.

In addition to this approach, which positively impacts students throughout the school, all tenth grade students participate in a unit in their English class in which they identify a Geneseo graduate who works in an occupation that is of interest to them, and students interview them. Students are supported through this process with both a combination of pre-written consistent questions across all careers and with the flexibility to develop and ask their own specific questions that are of interest to them and/or specifically relevant to the occupation.

Building a positive culture around career exploration and connectedness

Central to the idea of the Alumni Career Connections website, is that it works on a “personal level” for current students. As Mr. Mackey describes, connecting students to alumni, “people who sat in the same seats that you (current students) do and had some of the same teachers you have had” has a tremendous impact on helping career exploration feel real to current students and that their career aspirations are possible. The tool has two other important side benefits:

  • Alumni stay connected to one another and to the school.
  • Alumni reference the teachers who impacted them, and honoring teachers “really keeps our teachers going” as they see how they made a difference in the lives of alumni after they have graduated.

December 2020

An Integrated, Comprehensive Approach to Career Readiness

Maine Township High School District 207, located in Park Ridge and Des Plaines, Illinois just north of O’Hare Airport, has developed a comprehensive approach to career readiness with its Integrated Career Services Team and their work with students, teachers and counselors, and community partners.

A meaningful career experience for
each student, each year.

Ken Wallace, Maine 207 Superintendent

Over the past five years, Maine 207 has focused on the development of career readiness that is:

  • accessible for all students and for each student
  • integrated throughout the school day
  • diverse in experiences from guest speakers in classes and clubs to paid internships
  • aligned with workforce needs in our communities and is aligned with students’ interests and passions
  • engaging for community members and organizations through their partnerships with the school district and their work with students

Connecting with Community Partners

In addition to the superintendent, the district’s leadership team, and the high school principals, the Integrated Career Services Team provides a very important public face for Maine 207 with the community. The Integrated Services Team creates and sustains relationships with business partners that engage in everything from serving as guest speakers to providing full internship experiences with students. To date, Maine 207 has developed a network of 700 community partners. Acknowledging that this number and range of partnerships may not be the same in our diverse communities across Illinois, all school districts already have relationships with businesses and community groups. Those relationships can and should be leveraged into real partnerships to support student learning generally and career experiences specifically.

Intentional Planning that Builds Over Time for Students

As can be seen in the two images below from the Maine 207 Integrated Career Services Team, the district’s work around career readiness focuses on long-term planning that extends into the middle schools and that builds upon itself with each passing year of high school.

In each of the above examples, the experiences start out as shorter experiences designed, over the course of multiple experiences, to give students an understanding of a broad range of potential careers. This is both developmentally appropriate for most ninth and tenth grade students, and it recognizes that, coming into high school, most students have a very limited understanding of what different careers and workplaces look and feel like in-action. Often times, younger high school students only have an intimate knowledge of the careers of their own adult family members, some other adults that they may know well, and their teachers. Even in these cases, they are likely to only have a limited, more superficial understanding of these careers. The approach taken by Maine 207’s plan is designed to address this head-on by potentially providing students with a strong foundation across many different career pathways. Starting ninth and tenth graders with everything from guest speakers to field trips to volunteer opportunities is also flexible enough to allow individual students to start focusing more specifically on individual career pathways in which they already think they have a greater interest.

Connecting Career Readiness to Engaging Instruction

Importantly, the career readiness activities also integrate with Maine 207’s focus on ensuring that all classes are designed around highly engaging learning. As career experiences are integrated into a wide range of classes, there are opportunities for teachers to more effectively and easily design instruction around authentic learning opportunities that allow students to both learn about careers and to learn concepts, content, and skills more deeply.

A Series and Sequence of Career Experiences

As students move into eleventh and twelfth grades, there are increasingly opportunities for more in-depth work-based learning experiences. These are varied as they allow for the different needs of students, the different natures of different careers and workplaces, and the different requirements and capacities of various partners.

As mentioned earlier, guest speakers are invited in to classrooms throughout the schools and across all grade levels. While Maine 207 has long been a worldwide leader in educational technology including being Google’s original school district partner for Google Apps (known today as Google Workplace), schools far-and-wide have become comfortable with online meetings and classes as a result of the pandemic. The increased access to technology and acceptance of remote meeting and learning tools has made engaging guest speakers with students easier than ever before. Additionally, these same tools allow even more students to benefit from a guest speaker than was previously the case as a result of being able to have more than 25-30 students in the “room” with the students and as a result of being able to record a session with a guest speaker and share it with students later.

Career Treks and Job Shadowing experiences provide more in-depth opportunities to interact with professionals and to see and understand workplaces. As the slides above from the Maine 207 Integrated Career Services Team remind:

  • These experiences can take advantage of other already-established programs, such as Junior Achievement.
  • These experiences can and should take place in businesses, but they can and should also take place in other organizations, including other governmental agencies and in our own school districts. (Many Illinois school districts have started job shadowing and internships with their own Operations, Information Technology, and Business Services staffs. Of course, many Illinois school districts also do not have one or more of these key areas in-house as standalone departments due to either their size or available resources.)

Maine Township High School District 207 offers students both formal and informal internship opportunities. The formal internship is structured around a scheduled class period. In this scenario, the student and the school internship supervisor meet one period per week to check-in and discuss the internship. The informal internship does not include that scheduled class period and weekly check-in. There are a variety of options for when students actually participate in their internships, both during and beyond the school day, and these scenarios are based on both the student’s needs as well as the needs and parameters in place with the organization providing the internship. Maine 207 has approximately 450 students participating in formal internships, and there are additional students participating in informal internships. Between 5 and 15% of the internships have been paid internships.

For more information…

Maine Township High School District 207 Career Exploration website
The Maine 207 Career Exploration website provides up-to-date information on upcoming events as well as dashboards for students and parents, community partners, and staff members. Additionally, staff member information is available, including the opportunity to schedule meetings directly with the team members.

The Integrated Career Services Team at Maine East, Maine West, and Maine South High Schools also actively posts information on Instagram as another medium from which they can communicate with students in addition to the website, emails, and school announcements.

November 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

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

College Changes Everything (CCE) Conference

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

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

July 2020

Model Programs of Study Guides Released

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

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

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

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

July 2020

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

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