Districts 211, 214, 220 take lead in state's new college, career preparation program
New data shows high school students from three Northwest suburban school districts were at the forefront of a fledgling Illinois program aimed at preparing clear college and career pathways.
Students from Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, Northwest Suburban High School District 214 and Barrington Unit District 220 achieved 448 of 575 of the state's total certifications, or 78% of the total.
The three districts, along with Harper College in Palatine, belong to an educational collaborative called the Northwest Educational Council for Student Success.
The three school districts offer endorsements in five areas: Finance and Business Services; Human and Public Services; Health and Science Technology; Information Technology; and Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Trades.
Students earn the endorsements by completing an individualized learning plan, a career-focused instructional sequence, and professional learning opportunities to interact with adults in their workplaces.
"We recognize the value of creating unique learning opportunities and ensuring our students are prepared to move successfully from high school to college or careers," District 211 Superintendent Lisa Small, this year's Northwest Educational Council for Student Success board chair, said in a statement.
"The College and Career Pathway Endorsements represent something that we have long known: Our students are ready to succeed. This puts a stamp of approval on the work our students have accomplished, and we are proud to be leading the way in recognizing the efforts of our teachers and students."
The program's certifications are called College and Career Pathway Endorsements and take the form of a seal given by the state on the students' transcripts, said the collaborative's executive director, Nancy Awdziejczyk.
The program began awarding such endorsements in 2020, when only five were earned statewide. The number rose to 47 in 2021 before growing more than 12 times this year, Awdziejczyk added.
In late May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 3296, which requires Illinois school districts to apply to offer at least one endorsement area beginning with the high school graduating class of 2027.
One potential benefit of earning an endorsement is Harper College waiving its First Year Seminar course. And students who achieve it will be automatically considered a finalist for the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, a teacher preparation program that provides mentorship and up to $23,000 in tuition assistance.
"Issuing the majority of endorsements throughout the state, our commitment to the College and Career Pathway Endorsements is another shining example of how NECSS partners collaborate to ensure all students in our local communities have the opportunity to succeed educationally and launch careers with the knowledge and skills that employers need," Harper College President Avis Proctor said in a statement.