For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 22, 2018

State Superintendent announces six districts joining competency-based education pilot

Pilot provides unique opportunity to redesign high school 

SPRINGFIELD – State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D., today announced six school districts joining the Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program in the pilot’s second cohort. Representatives from Belvidere School District 100 joined Smith at Belvidere North High School and took a tour of the school’s agricultural program, which is part of the district’s competency-based model for career pathways.

The 15 total districts in the pilot each have a unique strategy for implementing competency-based learning and teaching. These pilot districts are creatively using technology, assessments, staffing, schedules, and local partnerships to maximize opportunities for students. 

“Competency-based education re-engages students in their learning by putting them in the driver’s seat,” said Smith. “This is the new frontier of college and career preparation. The jobs of tomorrow need adaptive, critical thinkers with a sense of purpose. I applaud our pilot districts for their leadership and for showing that districts anywhere of any size can innovate with competency-based learning in ways that work for their communities.”

Competency-based programs assess and advance students based on their demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge. The competency-based model removes the constraints of “seat time” and allows for student-driven learning inside and outside of the classroom. This approach can make education more relevant both to students and to local employers.

“Our community wants high schools that are relevant to today's world and better prepare students with the skills they need,” said Belvidere School District 100 Superintendent Dr. Daniel Woestman. “Competency-based education has the ability to provide that in a better way - and make our high schools not only more effective but more equitable for all of our children. We are grateful for this support from the Illinois State Board of Education, which will empower our teachers to incorporate new and more individualized solutions that support our students.”  

The school districts joining the competency-based learning pilot’s second cohort are: 
  • Belvidere School District 100 
  • Chicago Public Schools (five additional schools: Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School, Curie Metropolitan High School, Disney II Magnet School, Northside College Preparatory High School, Phoenix Military Academy)
  • Community Unit School District 300 
  • Maine Township High School District 207 
  • Paris Cooperative High School
  • Urbana School District 116
Smith also announced at the event that the Illinois State Board of Education will open the application process for districts to join this cohort of the pilot in May. 

“We are so excited about the momentum building around this work. We want to expand this opportunity to as many schools as allowed by law,” Smith said. 

All of the districts in the pilot will convene this summer to receive coaching from national experts and to continue building a community of practice. Learn more about competency-based education at​.