For Immediate Release
Monday, May 21, 2018

State Board accepting applications for competency-based education pilot

​Statewide event for districts on June 26 will showcase incubators of innovation​​

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today released a second Request for Applications for the second cohort of the Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program. The State Board will host an event on June 26 in Springfield for any districts interested in innovation and the exploration of competency-based practices. 

Competency-based practices decouple learning from the constraints of "seat time," allowing students to learn in communities and workplaces, as well as in classrooms. Competency-based education involves more personalized instruction, allowing students to learn at their own pace. Students work toward mastery of "competencies" – discrete skills and knowledge sets – and progress to new or more advanced content once they demonstrate mastery. 

"Encouraging competency-based and personalized learning is part of the State Board’s mission of equity," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Every student deserves an education that fosters their strengths and gives them the time and diverse opportunities they need to grow. 

"These pilot districts are really on the cutting edge," said Smith. "I encourage any school or district leader interested in this work to attend our event in Springfield on June 26."

Competency-based learning makes high school more relevant to students’ own strengths and interests and to the needs and opportunities of local employers and communities. Parents, families, and educators also more deeply understand where each student is in their learning and what they need to grow. 

School districts participating in the pilot will design their own competency-based education system with support from national experts and with input from local stakeholders. The districts in the pilot are building a community of practice and knowledge-sharing around innovative assessments, scheduling, teacher collaboration, and technology. 

All Illinois school districts serving grades 9 through 12 are eligible to apply to participate in the pilot. Districts interested in applying may access the application, as well as a library of research and resources, at​. Applications are due to ISBE by August 1, 2018.

Illinois Public Act 99-0674 (the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act), passed unanimously by both legislative houses and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on July 29, 2016, established the Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program as one of a number of strategies to prepare more students for meaningful college and career opportunities.