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Huntley 158 is one of 10 Illinois school districts selected to participate in the first cohort of Illinois’ Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program. The program is targeted to spur innovation among school districts to develop competency-based learning systems.
Each school district chosen to participate in the pilot will create a competency-based learning and credit system of the district’s design. In competency-based learning, educators assess and advance students based on demonstrated mastery of specific skills, abilities, and knowledge, rather than on time in the classroom.
Competency-based learning allows for a potentially more relevant and personalized learning experience for students, in addition to deeper integration of technology and better utilization of teacher talent.
“The 10 school districts participating in the first cohort of the Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot are opening new doors for students and educators,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “These districts are modeling the future I want to see in Illinois – innovative, led by educators, supportive of the whole child and of every student reaching their full potential, and with schools at the center of healthy communities.”
In a news release from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Smith said “the way we prepare students for college and career must evolve if we want to fuel a thriving economy and healthy communities,” citing relatively low statewide levels of college readiness and a high percentage of community college students requiring remedial courses.
“Huntley High School’s pilot will attempt to break down the walls of the traditional classroom and allow students to progress at a personalized pace. Teachers will guide their progress and offer seminar-like instruction, allowing students to demonstrate mastery of learning standards across subject areas rather than completing courses,” the District’s summary said.
The State launched the pilot program to spur innovation in the way high schools prepare students for meaningful careers and to support Illinois’ goal of increasing the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act, passed unanimously by both legislative chambers and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner, established the pilot program in 2016.
In addition to Huntley 158, school districts participating in the first cohort of the pilot include:

  • Peoria Public Schools District 150
  • 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

All of the participating districts have created local Planning and Implementation Committees and plans to engage their communities and stakeholders in the development and implementation of their competency-based learning systems.
ISBE will foster an open learning community and provide an online library of research, technical assistance, and models to support the first cohort of the pilot and encourage more districts to apply for future cohorts.
No state funding has been appropriated in the current fiscal year for this pilot program. ISBE has requested $1 million in Fiscal Year 2018 to help support the development of the pilot program. The application for the next cohort will open later in 2017.
Learn more about the pilot and the participating districts’ plans at www.isbe.net/competency​.