For Immediate Release
Monday, September 10, 2018

Four school districts join Illinois’ competency-based education pilot

​Growing competency-based movement drives innovation in college and career preparation

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced that four school districts are joining the state's Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program: Illinois Valley Central School District 321 in Peoria County, Mattoon Community Unit School District 2, Quincy School District 172, and Warren Community Unit School District 205.

The districts join the pilot on the heels of the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act, which emphasizes workplace-based learning, incentivizes community and employer partnerships, and expands CTE opportunities to middle grades. The growing competency-based movement in Illinois, fueled by advances in CTE, is modernizing traditional structures of education to engage all students in college and career success.

“Competency-based education is the future of college and career preparation, and Illinois intends to be a leader," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The reauthorization of the CTE Act occurs as we transform college and career readiness in Illinois. CTE creates opportunities for students to explore careers, while building academic knowledge and transferrable skills. Competency-based systems allow all of that learning to count."

Many districts across the state are implementing competency-based practices. The state's pilot offers school districts a unique opportunity to receive coaching from national experts and to build a community of practice with other districts. Districts share and learn about innovations in scheduling, teacher collaboration, technology, curriculum, credits, partnerships, and performance assessments.

Students in competency-based systems demonstrate mastery of skills and concepts in order to advance. Competency-based systems personalize education to the student, allowing the student's own interests, goals, and pace to dictate the structure. Students learn outside and inside of the classroom, developing skills and knowledge through apprenticeships, internships, and community service, as well as the classroom.

Pilot districts use the principles of competency-based education to design their own unique systems with input from local stakeholders.

The four school districts announced today bring the total number of participating districts to 19. The school districts in the pilot span the state, from urban, to suburban, to rural.

ISBE launched the pilot to spur innovation in the way high schools prepare students for meaningful careers and to support Illinois' goal of 60 percent of Illinoisans having a high-quality degree or credential by 2025. The pilot is one of four strategies enacted by the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act, which was unanimously passed by both legislative chambers and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner.

​The application for the next cohort will open in October 2018. Learn more about the pilot and see a map of participating districts at