For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 20, 2018

Central Illinois collaboratives take on competency-based learning

​Districts partner together to expand college and career readiness

SPRINGFIELD – A new law allowing multi-district collaboratives to band together to apply for the state's competency-based education pilot has opened up the field of possibilities for Illinois students. The Illinois State Board of Education today announced the initial selection of participants in the third cohort of the state's competency-based education pilot, including three collaboratives from central Illinois and two individual districts in Charleston and Fulton. 

The applications for the third cohort of the pilot reflected a common theme: expanding college and career readiness for students. The collaboratives and districts plan to provide opportunities outside of the traditional classroom experience for students to explore high-skill, high-value, and in-demand fields.  

“If our current model helps 100 percent of students find success, then we can stay the course. But if our approach excludes even one student from success, then we owe it to them to explore new ways of teaching and learning," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “I applaud the leaders in Central Illinois, Charleston, and Fulton for rising to the challenge of preparing all students to thrive." 

Pilot districts have flexibility to design the competency-based education program that meets the needs of their students, communities, teachers, and partners. Working together as collaboratives allows districts to utilize common frameworks and share resources. By joining the pilot, districts gain access to Illinois' growing community of practice around personalized learning, performance assessments, and career pathways.  

The participants initially selected for the third cohort of the pilot include: 

1)      Abe Lincoln Collaborative

The Abe Lincoln Collaborative, covering the Springfield area, is partnering with the Regional Office of Education (ROE) 51 and the Capital Area Career Center “to create a professional learning community across districts that will enable us to seek solutions and evolve so that each individual system is stronger as we work together." Pathways they intend to develop collaboratively span the healthcare and biomedical fields, building trades and manufacturing, agriculture, and IT/STEM. Participating districts include:

  • Athens Community Unit School District 213
  • Auburn Community Unit School District 10
  • Ball-Chatham Community School District 5
  • Edinburg Community School District 4
  • Greenview Community School District 200
  • New Berlin Community Unit School District 16
  • Pawnee Community Unit School District 11
  • Pleasant Plains Community Unit School District 8
  • PORTA Community Unit School District 202
  • Riverton Community Unit School District 14
  • Sangamon Valley Community Unit School District 9
  • Springfield District 186
  • Tri-City Community Unit School District 1
  • Williamsville Community Unit School District 15 

2)      Champaign Collaborative

The Champaign Collaborative will partner with ROE 9 to establish the LEAD Academy: Learners with Enhanced opportunities for individualized learning by Accessing community partnerships in order to create relevance and Develop pathways for career and college success. The LEAD Academy will “ensure students earn credit towards graduation requirements in other ways than traditional coursework, including capstone projects and supervised career development experiences." The Champaign Collaborative also will work with two current competency pilot districts, Urbana School District 116 and Rantoul Township High School District 193 . Participating districts include:

  • Champaign Community Unit School District 4
  • Heritage Community School District 8
  • Mahomet-Seymour Community Unit District 3
  • Paxton-Buckley-Loda Community Unit School District 10
  • St. Joseph-Ogden Community High School District 305
  • Tolono Community Unit School District 7 

3)      Charleston Community Unit School District 1

The vision for Charleston's competency-based education system is for all students to master both academic and adaptive competencies with a growth mindset. According to the district's application, “The traditional time-based model of education is failing our students. At this time, Charleston School District feels compelled to make a change in our current instructional model. We believe our students are capable of rising to this challenge and are worth the extensive effort." 

4)      River Bend Community Unit School District 2, Fulton

The district will build on its existing Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) framework to create career pathways. According to the district's application, “River Bend School District has developed a district-wide PaCE document that includes activities K-12." The district will coordinate the pathways with their framework and develop endorsements in areas such as education, manufacturing, and agriculture. 

5)      Work Ready Program Collaborative

The Work Ready Program Collaborative is partnering with ROE 17 and the Livingston Area Career Center to create the Work Ready Program that will offer three work-ready courses that reflect entry-level career opportunities in healthcare support, allied health, and 21st-century manufacturing. According to the collaborative's application, “This Work Ready pathway would result in tangible skills that can be taken directly to the workforce by the student." Participating districts include:

  • LeRoy Community Unit School District 2
  • Olympia Community Unit School District 16
  • Pontiac Township School District 90
  • Tri-Valley Community Unit School District 3 

View a map of all the pilot districts, as well as videos, resources, and more at ISBE anticipates offering another opportunity to join the third cohort of the pilot early in 2019.