State districts launch competency-based graduation programs

Ten school districts in Illinois are taking a different approach to educating their students by personalizing their learning experiences as part of a competency-based graduation pilot program at local high schools.

The new program shifts the focus off of graduating high school in four years and pushes students to master skills necessary for reaching the next phase in their life, according to Mary Reynolds, director of Community Partnerships and Secondary Transformation with the State Board of Education.

Many students are not prepared for college courses when they graduate high school. Forty-nine percent of students take remedial courses when they enroll in community college, according to the board of education.

This program aims to find relevant experiences for kids to learn outside of the traditional classroom, Reynolds said.

“It’s a new way of thinking about how students learn and what they learn, and the pace that they learn it, instead of focusing on graduation in four years,” Reynolds said.

The State Board of Education has requested $1 million to fund the program in its fiscal year 2018 budget.

“That $1 million is intended to help the startup funding for these pilot districts,” Reynolds said.

This program has not faced opposition from legislators, parents, or students, Reynolds said. It is scheduled to begin during the 2018-19 school year.

The school districts participating in the program are Chicago Public School District #299; East St. Louis School District #189; Huntley Community School District #158; Kankakee School District #111; Peoria District #150; Proviso Township High School District #209; Rantoul Township High School District #193; Ridgewood High School District #234; Round Lake Area School District #116; and Williamsfield Community Unit School District #210.

For more information visit the Illinois State Board of Education.

–Illinois News Network

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