Why Competency-Based?

Not all students learn at the same pace, however current school structures require students to do so. Competency based learning will be more personalized to the individual student and focus on mastery of topics. It will allow students to reach competencies in their own timeframe.

The pilot of competency-based high school graduation requirements will:

    • Provide families and students with clearer understanding of the knowledge and behavior required for college and career readiness.
    • Give students greater agency to become active participants in their learning, including more relevant contexts.  For example, a student could show they understand a topic outside a traditional classroom setting.

What does participation in competency-based learning systems look like?

School districts participating in the pilot have a large amount of freedom, including selecting:

    • Which year and graduation requirements it wishes to replace with competency-based learning systems.
    • Which schools will participate.

The pilot should include the following elements:

    • Students need to demonstrate mastery of all required competencies to earn credit.
    • Students need to demonstrate mastery of adaptive competencies defined by the school district.
    • Students will advance once they’ve shown mastery.  Students will get extra guidance and time, if needed, to achieve mastery.
    • Students will have the ability to gain advanced postsecondary education and career-related competencies beyond those needed for graduation, for example through dual credit or internships.
    • Students will be assessed using multiple measures to determine mastery.
    • Students will be allowed to earn credit toward graduation in ways other than traditional coursework.  This should include opportunities outside the traditional classroom setting.

A school district participating will show that the proposed competency-based learning system is a core strategy supporting the effort to better prepare high school students for college, career, and life.

Professional development for administration and faculty must be part of the implementation plan.

If math, English language arts, or science are the courses being replaced, the district will demonstrate how mastery is achieved through integrated courses or career and technical education courses.

The community should be involved.

Course grades will reflect competency-based learning systems.

A plan should be made to assess student progress.

Data should be collected and reported.

A community college and higher education institution should partner with the school district to help in the development and administration.

Feeder elementary schools should be engaged in the process.

Eligibility, application process, and waivers

Phase 1: initial application and selection process. The application for the pilot program will require:

    • Demonstration of commitment from the school district superintendent, president of the school board, teachers, a community college partner, and a higher education institution partner
    • A decision on the year of implementation
    • A description on the plan for implementation
    • Professional development and stakeholder engagement efforts that will support the pilot
    • Any waivers or modifications from the law as it is stated

Note: school districts will create a committee to aid in planning and implementation and assist in running reports and providing recommendations

Phase 2: full development and implementation of a detailed plan for high school graduation requirements.

    • School districts can petition for a waiver or modification of the mandates of the school code or the administrative rules adopted by ISBE in order to support implementation.
    • No waivers will be allowed for: state assessments, accountability, teacher tenure or seniority, evaluations, or protections for particular groups of students.
    • Any waiver of teacher educator licensure requirements must ensure that an appropriately licensed teacher and the provider of the instruction jointly determine the method for assessing competency of mastery and jointly verify whether a student has demonstrated mastery.

The first two annual cohorts are limited to at most 12 school districts, and any subsequent cohort is limited to at most 15 school districts.

Who is participating?

  • Peoria Public Schools District 150
  • Huntley Community School District
  • Rantoul Township High School District 193
  • Williamsfield Community Unit School District 210
  • Kankakee School District 111
  • Proviso Township High School District 209
  • East St. Louis School District 189
  • Ridgewood High School District 234
  • Round Lake Community Unit School District 116
  • Six schools in Chicago Public Schools District 299
    • Benito Juarez Community Academy High School
    • Lindblom Math & Science Academy
    • Brooks College Prep
    • Walter Payton College Preparatory High School
    • Consuella B York Alternative High School
    • South Side Occupational High School

Press release regarding the pilot districts

Participating district descriptions

Statewide supports

ISBE will provide support by providing:

    • Grants
    • Professional development and technical assistance including peer-to-peer coaching
    • Evaluation of the program including
      • Successes and challenges
      • Objective outcome measures
      • Qualitative measures
      • Recommendations for further program modification and improvement
    • Networking opportunities for teacher and administration
    • Web-based library of implementation plans and models
    • Communication materials

ICCB’s role

Much of the work involved in the pilot for Competency-based High School Graduation Requirements is under ISBE, therefore ICCB will play an advisory and support role.

Implementation Timeline

  • By June 30, 2017: State Superintendent of Education will publish the application for school districts to participate in the initial cohort of the pilot
  • By April 1, 2018: school districts will be selected for the initial cohort of the pilot program (after review of application materials)
  • By October 1, 2018: selected school districts shall develop and submit the full implementation plans
  • 2018-2019 school year: participating school districts start the pilot
  • 2009-2020 school year: the State Superintendent of Education may establish additional cohorts of the pilot
  • 2021-2022 school year: participating school districts are evaluated, and recommendations are made to ISBE and the General Assembly on modification, elimination, or expansion of the pilot

ISBE information regarding Competency Pilot