The Sauk Valley Partnership Advocating Student Success (PASS) hosted their 5th annual College and Career Readiness Summit on Friday, February 7, 2020 at Sauk Valley Community College. The day highlighted the combination of policies, programs, partnerships and practitioners in pursuit of a community-focused approach to college and career readiness. Highlights from the day include the keynote from Tim Farquer, Superintendent and Curriculum Director for Williamsfield Schools, one of the first competency-based pilot schools. Tim explained how the district focus on students attaining needed skills, completing career pathways and participating in local partnerships has resulted in the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards rising from 34% to 50% in the past four years. Instead of arranging students by age, students are arranged according to graduation outcomes. Students can choose to complete an associates degree by the time they graduate from high school, college credits, trade certifications or work-based experiences.
Another key to the attainment of competency-based education is identifying acceleration points in various subjects. When students reach these benchmarks, they identify opportunities to accelerate through work that they have already learned. A continual focus on “this is where I am but this is where I want to go and this is how I will get there” has permeated the district such that even parent conferences are now led by the students themselves.
Tim states “Our approach to career pathways leverages student’s passions to drive core skills farther & faster, positioning themselves for success after high school.” For more information about competency-based education in Williamsfield, contact Tim Farquer at firstname.lastname@example.org
The day also included “policymaker speed dating” in which state and local policy-makers met with practitioners in a round-robin format. Policymakers answered questions about how practitioners and policymakers can work closely together and then listened to the practitioners’ perspective on the issue. Topics included competency education, students ready for life after graduation, career pathways, limitations of rural settings, and more. Janis Jones said, “The structure of policy speed dating forced participants to be thoughtful and articulate in their comments. It allowed policy makers to hear directly from those who attempt to implement the policies, and created great dialogue. Both sides benefited.”
Business and industry representatives joined the group for lunch and then the afternoon included several break out sessions. Topics ranged from learning more about Transitional Math to Career Pathway Endorsements to the IllinoisPostsecondaryProfiles.com website. These breakout sessions not only provided conference attendees with opportunities to learn from the presenters, but there were also many instances in which great value also came from what educators shared with one another through discussion.
Sauk Valley Community College and Regional Office of Education 47 (Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside Counties) ended the day with an announcement that they had been awarded funding through the Illinois Community College Board’s Transitional Instruction-English Pilot Project grant. Click here to read more and to view the grant awardees from across Illinois.