Educational Pathways Questions from Oct. 10 Citizens' Advisory Council Meeting

  • The following are answers to questions asked at the Oct. 10 Citizens' Advisory Council meeting at Elgin High School. 

Pathways-Related Questions

  • Q: What happened to plans for a career exploration class in middle school?

    U-46: Based on community feedback, we made a decision to blend this into the freshman seminar course that would be available during freshman year of high school. This will allow middle school students the ability to participate in a middle school elective course. The freshman seminar course will be run for a semester and will be optional. Some students may not need or want to take the course.

    Q: Why is our goal to increase the five-year graduation rate? Shouldn’t we be trying to increase the four-year graduation rate?

    U-46: Great question. Our District has a strategic plan that was developed several years ago, and the team at the time determined to use the five-year graduation rate as one of our metrics under that plan. We also have a goal to increase the four-year graduation rate and we’re doing a lot of work to support that goal. We are currently working to develop two critical high school teams: The Freshman Success team and the Post-Secondary success team. These two teams at all five high schools include administrators, teachers, and counselors. Both teams have started this year as a pilot and will scale their work starting with next school year.

    Q: Who is on the Educational Pathways steering committee?

    Kinasha Brown, Director of Educational Pathways; Ann Chan, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources; Annette Acevedo, Director of ELL Educational Services; Brian Moran, Principal of SEHS; Bruce Phelps, Senior Business Official; Doreen Roberts, Teacher Leader; Jamie Crosen, Principal of LHS; Jeffrey Prowell, Director of Transportation; Lela Majstorovic, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary; Michele Chapman, Director of Post-Secondary Success; Sheila Downs, Director of Plant Operations; Tracy Stewart, CTE Coordinator; Trisha Shrode Director of Curriculum & Instruction; Suzanne Johnson, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction; Brian Lindholm, Coordinator of Strategic Initiatives; Jeff King, Chief Operations Officer; Jennifer Van Deusen, Principal of SHS; Joshua Carpenter, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning; Krystal Thomas, Principal of EHS; Mary Fergus, Director of School & Community Relations; Mike Demovsky, Principal of BHS; and Yvette Gonzalez-Collins, Principal of Ellis MS.

    Q: At the school board meeting it was mentioned decisions were initially made at a retreat, then brought back to the committee. Who was at that retreat? Who paid for the retreat?

    U-46: The word “retreat” was used to describe a day-long meeting. The meeting took place in a room at the Educational Services Center. It did not cost any money, aside from staff time. Members of the Educational Pathways Steering Team attended the meeting. Their names are listed in the answer to the question above.

    Q: For curriculum changes and new courses, will training and professional development be fully completed by teachers well before they start teaching new curriculum in August 2021?

    U-46: We expect that professional development will be ongoing and many teachers will have completed training by August 2021. It’s important to note that our first high school students to enter the new academy and pathways system won’t begin taking their Educational Pathways-related courses until their sophomore year, in August 2022. We will continue to offer professional development for Educational Pathways just as we continue to offer it for our Dual Language program, gifted education, our play-based kindergarten curriculum, and other instructional initiatives. 

    Q: How will we address students who are at different levels in the same pathway?

    Just like now, students are placed into the core classes that best fit their abilities. This will not change with Educational Pathways. Students will not have to take all their core classes together. Their pathway courses form their small learning community. 

    Q: Please describe the current capacity of each high school, and then how you anticipate it will be impacted by Educational Pathways.

    U-46: This is work that still needs to be done. We are sharing information as we go along in an effort to inform our community and collaborate with all partners but that means that we do not have all the answers.

    Q: What other districts in Illinois have seen success in implementing pathways?

    U-46: Some nearby districts that have implemented pathways include Rockford Public Schools District 205, City of Chicago School District 299 (select high schools), Community Unit District 300, Central Community Unit School District 301, Township High School District 211, Township High School District 214, Northfield Township High School District 225, Ridgewood Community High School District 234 and Maine Township High School District 207.Because this is a statewide initiative, many school districts are working to be able to offer opportunities within Educational Pathways. We are working to invite some state experts and other Districts with success stories to share them with our families in the future.

    Q: Once a student chooses their pathway, at what point can they change their pathway if they so choose?

    U-46: To maximize flexibility, pathways will be designed with multiple entry and exit points. Students can change their pathway selection during sophomore or junior year. However, depending on when the student changes their pathway selection they may not be able to earn early college credentials offered in the new pathway. We are still determining exactly when in the school year those entry and exit points would be offered.

    Q: Will students in the Liberal Arts pathway be able to take any electives they choose?

    U-46: Students in the Liberal Arts pathways will be able to take any electives they choose as long as they meet the course prerequisites.

    Q: How many electives can a Liberal Arts Academy student pick per year? If two, does a foreign language elective and band meet most requirements for Illinois state universities?

    U-46: Depending on the courses that the student takes, they would have the ability to take two electives each semester. Each public university in Illinois has different requirements. Please refer to our current curriculum guide and graduation requirements. Also note that the Liberal Arts Academy and its pathway(s) will offer the closest experience to our current high school programming.

    Q: When you say enrollment will play a factor - what do you mean by that?

    U-46: Enrollment will play a factor in courses that require a certain facility, which is why welding, culinary arts, and autos have historically been given as examples. We don’t foresee a situation where access will be limited for pathways courses that do not require a specialized facility, Again, this initiative is under development and that means we will continue to make decisions and share with U-46 families.

    Q: What happens if a child has a negative experience in these small communities? Negative experience with a teacher? A classmate? How will you handle the social/emotional aspect?

    U-46: There is a lot of work occurring to teach students social emotional learning (SEL) standards. This is being started as early as elementary school with our new integrated curriculum that includes the teaching of explicit SEL standards. As we write and/or revise the Educational Pathways courses, the SEL standards will also be woven into their curriculum. As a part of the professional development provided to teachers with a new curriculum roll-out, teachers will have ongoing professional development and support for teaching the curriculum to students.  

    Q: How will Dual Language be integrated into Educational Pathways?

    U-46: We are currently working to review potential course sequences to ensure that all Dual Language students will have access to Educational Pathways courses. We are also researching to determine which electives or Educational Pathways courses could potentially be taught in Spanish.

    Q: How do pathways support the concept of allowing students to explore a wide spectrum of focus areas or careers?

    U-46: We know that students thrive when their learning environment is relevant to them. Pathways options will allow students who have an interest in a specific area to learn more through a rigorous course of study in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades while also taking all the core classes. U-46 is also working with Alignment Collaborative for Education (ACE) to engage community partners to support the need for work-based learning opportunities in the form of site visits, internships, job shadowing, clinical hours, and part-time employment, which will deepen their understanding of a field of interest. 

    At the same time, students will still be able to enroll in elective courses to explore other areas that might interest them. Finally, students who choose not to enroll into a pathway will also still have access to elective courses to explore their interests.

    Q. Will there be a 1st choice, 2nd choice application for Educational Pathways?

    U-46: There will be a process, but we have not yet determined what it will look like. We will continue to update families, students, staff, and community members as that process is created.

    Q: What happens if capacity is exceeded?

    U-46: We are currently working with our facilities team to determine the sites where these pathways will be offered. We are planning sites based on historical enrollment numbers and future student interest data, so we are hopeful that all students will be able to enroll in the pathway of their choice. However, we will have a process in place for determining a 2nd choice pathway if necessary.

    Q: What is the default pathway?

    U-46:Students who do not select a pathway will be in the Liberal Arts Academy.

    Q: Currently at some of the Magnet Academies those classes are held during certain periods of the school day and in specific classroom. For example at LHS courses are generally held during the 2nd half of the 7th period and all of 8th period. Will those classrooms be held for academy only classes so that students taking pathways or other electives aren’t overlapping with academy courses? I ask because my understanding is that Magnet Academy courses are supposed to be more rigorous. 

    U-46: We will build master schedules so that we maintain integrity to our Magnet Academies and do not have multiple classes occurring in one classroom at the same time. We will also work to maximize classroom usage so that we can ensure students have access to classroom space throughout the day and not only during certain periods.

    Q: Will AP classes be offered in all pathway programs?

    U-46: Students will have access to earn early college credits in all pathways. That could be an AP class/exam, IB class/exam, Dual Credit course, Seal of Biliteracy, or industry credential. Students will also be able to select AP courses as they do now for classes that are not a part of their pathways (for example, AP Language and Composition instead of English III).

    Q: How do students at DREAM Academy fit into the Educational Pathways model?

    U-46: Students at DREAM Academy will have access through Educational Pathways courses either on-site (depending which pathways will be offered at DREAM) or through the ability to travel to another building.

    Q: Why is Law under the Human Services Academy rather than the Business Academy?

    U-46: The Educational Pathways Committee determined lawyers provide services to the community, so it makes sense that the law pathway would fit under the Human Services Academy.

    Q: How are you determining the caps for each pathway? Will there be multiple small learning communities for a single pathway if there is enough demand?

    U-46: There are not caps for an academy. There may be limited enrollment for a pathway only in cases where specialized facilities are required. Yes, there will be multiple small learning communities for a pathway if we have enough demand.

    Q: Are the local district like 214 making pathways mandatory or optional?

    U-46: They are optional, just as our U-46 Educational Pathways will be optional.

    Q: How will you determine what children get the pathway of their choice?

    U-46: We anticipate that most students will get the pathway of their choice, however we do need to develop a process for pathway selection. We hope to have this finalized by the Spring of 2021.

    Q: Will elementary schools be impacted by Educational Pathways? How will you prepare students to make these choices?

    U-46: We have not done explicit Educational Pathways work in elementary schools. The work we have been doing is largely focused on middle school and high school. We have engaged our counselors, teachers, and administrators in a committee to develop a school counseling services that integrate student interests and allows them to explore various careers and pathways throughout middle school. We are also developing an optional Freshman Seminar course that will support students in exploring their strengths and researching aligned careers and pathways in order to support them making an informed decision.

    Q: If a student picks a pathway but changes their mind, can they do any other exploratory seminar? What if the new 2nd pathway the student picks is at a different school?

    U-46: Students will have the opportunity to take the Freshman Seminar course. This course provides an overview of all U-46 college and career academies. Additionally, students will be able to take exploratory courses in art and music. We don’t expect that students will have to change schools. We expect that we will continue to determine procedures for students that might change their mind but know that our end goal is to support students and help them have a successful high school experience that helps them meet their short-term and long-term goals.

    Q: Have you looked at other school districts using pathways? What have you learned from their success/failures?

    U-46: We have looked at other school districts incorporating pathways. We have learned that it is critical to have a well-developed pathway that results in an opportunity for students to earn early college and career credentials. We have also learned that it is critical to ensure pathways are offered throughout a school district so that students can have equitable access. Another key is that it is important to ensure students have options and various points of entry and exit within a pathway.

    Q: What percent do you think will do the college prep/traditional high school model? How does this fit with small learning communities?

    U-46: The Liberal Arts Academy will provide a small learning community but exactly how that will look is still being developed. We are sharing updates as we develop this new secondary programming which means many details are not finalized.

    We have not conducted a survey or analysis on course predictions. 

    We would clarify that all academies will offer a college prep experience and traditional high school experience. More high schools in Illinois and across the country are building similar programs to help students explore an area of interest, apply their knowledge, and earn national credentials or early college credit. This is an initiative that aims to enhance our secondary experience, not completely overhaul it. Students must still meet high school graduation requirements and can still meet the most rigorous college admissions requirements while at the same time earning early college credit or nationally-recognized industry credentials. In fact, many U-46 graduates have already successfully achieved these goals, walking away with more than a high school diploma. We are expanding our programming so that more students find their high school experience to be rigorous and relevant, and conducive to building meaningful relationships. 

    Q: Will general education (Liberal Arts) students be allowed to take classes with pathways students? Or will there be a photography for pathways and a photography for electives?

    U-46: Yes, students enrolled in the liberal arts pathways will take courses with students in other pathways. Students in the liberal arts pathways will have access to the electives. They must meet the same prerequisites as other students. We are trying to be as flexible as possible so that ALL students have access to the courses that they want to take.

    Q: How do you prevent College and Career Academies from competing against Magnet Academies?

    U-46: Students in the Magnet Academies apply and begin their coursework as freshmen. Students in the College and Career Academies apply and begin their courses as sophomores. The courses that are offered in the Magnet and College and Career Academies will be different, and students and families will need to make choices with support from school administrators, teachers, and school counselors as well as resources such as Naviance.

    Q: If a student discovers that a specific pathway isn’t a good fit, can he or she opt for a more traditional high school curriculum? 

    U-46: Educational Pathways allow for students to move in and out at specific times during the year.  Students will have access to make changes to their pathway choice, and the Liberal Arts Academy will offer a pathway that is most like the “traditional HS curriculum.”

    Q: What if a student takes the Freshman Seminar course in the second semester after registering for sophomore classes and choosing an Educational Pathway? 

    U-46: The Freshman Seminar course is a one period course that is offered to incoming freshmen during first semester only. It will be optional for all freshman.

    Q: Do students need parent approval before picking an Educational Pathway?

    U-46: Magnet Academy applications require parent signatures. Pathways would follow the same process that occurs during course selection.

    Q: Who has final say on what pathway a student goes into?

    U-46: Students and parents determine which pathway, if any, a student will enroll into.

    Q: Will kids take a test to see what pathway they want to take?

    U-46: No, there are no testing requirements for admission into any pathway.

    Q: If a student applies to one of the Magnet Academies and doesn't get accepted, what pathway will they be put into?

    U-46: Students will still have the opportunity to select the pathway of their choice.

    Q: Did the other Illinois school districts that implemented pathways roll it out to all their high schools? 

    U-46: Yes, Rockford Public Schools - District Wide - 4 High Schools/1 Community Center

    Chicago Public Schools (Select High Schools) 

    Maine Township - District Wide - 3 High Schools

    District 214 - District Wide - 6 High Schools

    District 211 - District Wide - 5 High Schools 

    Q: How is selecting a pathway different than selecting a magnet school?

    U-46: Magnet Academies are structured, four-year specialized programs that have an established admission criteria. Pathways courses take up one to two periods within a student’s schedule and are designed to be completed in three years; they do not require admission criteria.

    Q: Do students in Educational Pathways graduate with a high school diploma? Can they choose to go to college?

    U-46: Students in all Educational Pathways programs will graduate with their high school diploma upon completion of all U-46 graduation requirements. Students will be supported in their senior year to apply to colleges of their choice regardless of which pathway they have selected.

    Q: At what point could a student switch their Educational Pathway?

    U-46: In alignment with our current practice and in order to ensure the least disruption to the student and school schedule, transitions will occur during the end of the semester. To maximize flexibility, pathways will be designed with multiple entry and exit points. Students can change their pathway selection during sophomore or junior year. However, depending on when the student changes their pathway selection they may not be able to earn early college credentials offered in the new pathway.

    Q: How will the District communicate the academic expectation for fields like nursing, engineering, etc?

    U-46: We already communicate the requirements for college admissions and specific requirements for specific programs. As we develop our College and Career Readiness programming, provide work-based learning experiences, take 8th graders to our annual expo, and develop our Academy and Educational Pathways, these conversations, the vocabulary of these fields, opportunities to apply knowledge, will become more common and integrated throughout our secondary experience.

    Q:What GPA do you have to have in order to be admitted to academies? 

    U-46: There is no GPA requirement for the college and career academies.

    Q: How is the District bringing student and parent groups to the decision table?

    U-46: We are committed to sharing updates with our Board of Education twice a year. We have hosted community town halls beginning in 2017, and the feedback from parents and community members helped us make some changes to our proposed programming. Based on concerns of parents, we agreed to host the same five academies at each school so that students could stay in their home schools. We also determined that each school will host a Liberal Arts Academy, which offers students the most flexibility to explore their interests while still earning early college credit. 

    The initial idea regarding academies and pathways received feedback from our students during the student summit nearly three years ago when groups of students from all five high schools and the DREAM Academy got together at the day-long event and discussed various topics - one of them being the current Magnet Academies. They discussed the benefit of having their classes with the same group of students and teachers over the course of their high school years and recommended that we replicate this experience for all students.  We have been providing updates on the work during our annual student summits and monthly CEO Advisory meetings. 

    In the future, we may conduct focus groups, in addition to town halls and ongoing communication via our parent newsletter, website, email, and social media. We are grateful for the feedback from our community to date and expect that we will continue to collaborate with all partners.

    Q: Please explain exactly how much additional revenue the district will receive for each student that signs up for a pathway.

    U-46: There is not a revenue stream for students who sign up for a pathway.  The District historically and currently receives funding for CTE courses, but not all pathways will include CTE courses. The funding that the District receives for CTE courses is supplemental in nature and is only to be used to ensure the sustainability of CTE programming.  CTE Grant funding largely supports equipment purchases for CTE courses, supplies for CTE courses, teacher professional development, summer school opportunities for students, and field trip opportunities for students. U-46 received approximately $750,000 - $875,000 in CTE Grants annually. More importantly, it’s important for parents to know that student success in high school, and readiness for college and careers is driving this work, not any potential for additional state revenue. 

    Q: Can a student select a pathway and also enroll in a Dual Credit program? 

    U-46: All pathways have access to early college credit. Some pathways will have Dual Credit as one of these early college credit options. There are two options for dual credit: the part-time program and the full-time program. Students who want to participate in the part-time program would need to meet the qualifications set forth by Elgin Community College and could choose to select a dual-credit course during the course selection process. This course would be taught in the home high school just like any other course. Students who want to be full-time Dual Credit students and take all of their courses during their junior and senior years at Elgin Community College will have to make a choice during their sophomore year to apply to be in the full-time program, thus exiting their pathway. In addition, all students will continue to have access to AP courses.

    Q: How will this specifically reduce the percentage of U-46 students who need remedial classes in college? (currently this is very high)

    U-46: The roll-out of Pathways is one component of the plan to support students toward post-secondary success.  We have also implemented several new school-based teams, the Freshman Success Committee and the Post-Secondary Success Committee, who are charged with developing systems and structures that will support the transition from 8th to 9th grade as well as the transition from high school to college. In addition to that, we have a strong focus on supporting all of our sites in implementing their school improvement plans, which specifically ask schools to develop a plan to address the following: core instruction, early college and career credentials, post-secondary success, safety, and family and community engagement. Schools are continuously working to improve instructional practices, student support, and overall climate and culture in their buildings. By improving core instructional practices and providing students support based on their needs, we believe student achievement will increase. 

    Q: What kind of teacher collaboration and prep time will be built into the pathways programs and design?

    U-46: We certainly will take teacher collaboration and prep time into consideration as we develop this program. We recognize that it's an important piece of this program’s initial launch and long-term success. At this time, we have not yet finalized exactly how this will look.

    Q: Did you ever poll the current 7th graders to see how they feel about this? If so please share the results.

    U-46: We have talked to national and local education colleagues, researchers, policy makers, U-46 high school students, teachers and parents. We haven’t explicitly surveyed all 7th graders, but we will work to increase student voice in the development and implementation of this plan. 

    Q: Diversity? How would this be achieved? Are we selecting people by race or ethnicity?

    U-46: We want to ensure that all students have access to all of our programs regardless of their background. We don’t want pathways to be a barrier to student success. The method of selection has not yet been determined, and we are continuing to work to ensure a fair and equitable process for all of our students.

    Q: Admin - please describe in your own words what concerns you have heard from parents. 

    U-46: We have answered hundreds of parental questions over the past two years and used that feedback to further develop the academies and pathways. We have addressed two of the biggest concerns: ensuring that all high schools offer the same five academies and offering a more flexible option which the District has provided through the addition of the Liberal Arts Academy. Some questions remain unanswered as we are still developing this complex initiative. We have been sharing information with our community as we develop the plan in order to get feedback as we design and structure this program. Our work and our updates is ongoing. 

    Q: What is the status of Physical Education Waiver? Will easier access to PE waivers open up elective time?

    U-46: Students will have the option to use the PE waiver to support access to post-secondary course offerings, which include Pathways courses. The waiver and its language can be found here.

    Q: International baccalaureate and gifted learners, where do they fit?

    U-46: The Elgin High School Gifted and Talented Magnet Academy will transition to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. The IB mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

    Gifted learners are encouraged to enroll in any educational pathways including magnet academies, as each pathway offers academically rigorous courses with opportunities for early college and career credentials.

    Q: How will we strengthen the academic core outcomes - math, science and English? Those subjects are on the SAT and impact abilities to succeed in college.

    U-46: Each school has a school improvement plan focused on improving outcomes for all students. We hope that the Educational Pathways program will aid in improving positive outcomes by giving students smaller learning communities where they form stronger relationships with peers and teachers, leading to stronger engagement in the classroom.

Freshman Seminar & Staffing Related Questions

  • Q: Is Freshman Seminar a graded course? 

    U-46: Yes, Freshman Seminar is designed to be a semester-long class for credit. Students will start with high school success strategies and then will move into career exploration in a broader sense. As students become aware of their interests and strengths, they will have an opportunity to engage in more focused college and career exploration that is more aligned to their specific goals. Students will have the opportunity to explore all U-46 College and Career Academies, as well as the Educational Pathways within each.

    Q: Where are the teachers in this process? How many teachers are the on pathway team? When are calls to curriculum committee going out?

    U-46: Teachers have been recruited to be a part of the current Freshman Success and Post-Secondary Success committees. They will also be recruited to curriculum committees. We are hoping to have most of the Calls to Committee released by late winter with most of the committee work happening in late spring and over the summer of 2020.

    Q: What additions to staff, like counseling, will be needed to support this?

    U-46: Because we will allow every student an opportunity to take 7 courses, additional teachers and counselors will need to be hired.

    Q: How are we preparing staff to teach within the Educational Pathways framework?

    U-46: Just as with any new curriculum roll-out, professional development will be required for all teachers.

    Q: If a freshman takes AVID can they pass on taking the seminar course? Will they miss out on anything by passing on the Freshman Seminar course if they are in AVID?

    U-46: Students are encouraged to take either Freshman Seminar or AVID as both courses offer students strategies to promote success in high school and include post-secondary planning and goal setting. Either experience is great for students.

    Q: So what sort of career oriented courses will be offered to explore in middle school?

    U-46: While there isn’t a specific career exploration course to be offered in middle school, a great deal of work has been done to revise offerings available to students through electives. This work is reflected in the middle school Art, P.E., Family & Consumer Sciences, Project Lead the Way and Computers curricula. All of the aforementioned courses have included specific post-secondary (college and career) exploration units and/or assignments. This will allow students to begin to identify areas of interest that they might consider for a pathway. 

    Q: We need to hire many new teachers who have masters degrees in a non-education field of study. (example - master’s in business administration, to teach advanced business classes). We also have a teacher workforce that does not currently reflect the diversity of our community. How will we find these high specialized teachers? And how will we recruit these high specialized teachers in a way that will encourage a diverse pool of applicants?

    U-46: We are working with our post-secondary partners to develop various teacher pathways for both current and new teachers so that we can have diverse teacher candidates who possess the skills, knowledge, and credentials to be able to support student enrollment into pathways courses. 

    Q: Will all teachers receive professional development so they understand and support pathways?

    U-46: Yes. With any new curricular roll-out, professional development is always an essential component. The roll-out of Pathways will ensure that teachers have the professional learning and support that they need to support student success in this model. 

    Q: How will the seminar course impact grading? If that is a one semester class what will be offered to students to fill their schedule 2nd semester? If the seminar is less than a semester how will the schedule fill out? Recognizing that the seminar course is optional, what is the plan if the number of students taking the seminar exceeds the number of seats in the class when the seminar is offered?

    U-46: The Freshman Seminar course has been designed to be a one semester course scheduled in the first semester.  There is no impact on grading other than students being instructed and assessed aligned to the district’s current SBLA guiding principles.  If students chose to take the one semester course, they can complete their schedule by taking a study hall, or another semester long elective.


Magnet Academy Questions

  • Q: Does this work eliminate the application process and other requirements for magnet academies?

    U-46: No, U-46 Magnet Academies will still have criteria and application requirements to be considered for admission.

    Q: Will the IQ-type requirement be eliminated for Magnet Academies?

    U-46: There is no IQ type requirement for any of the U-46 Magnet Academies. However, students will still need to meet criteria and application requirements to be considered for admission.

    Q: What is the purpose of keeping magnet academies if the Educational Pathways are based on the same model?

    U-46: The Magnet Academies at the District’s five high schools feature a unique curriculum focused on each Magnet Academy’s focus area and is aligned to the Magnet Schools of America pillars. Each Magnet Academy’s specialized curriculum and student learning experiences may not be offered in a similar way under Educational Pathways.

    Q: Are entrance requirements different for official Magnet Schools than they are currently for the existing five academies?

    U-46: There are no mandated entrance requirements for official magnet schools. Magnet programs have the autonomy to set admission requirements. We are currently working to revise the magnet admission process at all five sites.

    Q: Where does BEACON fall within the pathways? Will it only be at South Elgin?

    U-46: Beacon Academy of Media and Digital Arts is recognized as one of the U-46 Magnet programs. It has its roots in a broadcast and communication academy started in 2007 at South Elgin High School, and Beacon will continue to be based there.

    Q: What percentage of kids within the district get accepted into the magnet academies?

    U-46: We have not historically collected that data but may be able to do so in the future.

    Q: Will foreign languages such as Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese disappear from the Magnet Academies?

    U-46: While the Spanish language is taught at all of our high schools, Japanese and Chinese are only offered at the World Languages and International Studies Academy at Streamwood High School. The SHS Magnet Academy is undergoing a curriculum revision that will put a focus on teaching students about global issues and using their learning to solve problems that occur locally all while working to foster collaboration, critical thinking, and innovation. The Chinese and Japanese languages are currently under consideration for expansion as elective offerings at all high schools.


Transportation Questions

  • Q: Will there be an activity bus for non-home schools?

    U-46: We are currently evaluating our ability to provide activity buses for students. Currently, our activity buses transport students to stops within the high school boundary. We are exploring options to allow for some additional flexibility.

    Q: Will transportation to non-home schools be provided? 

    U-46: Yes, students who choose a pathway at a high school other than their home school will receive transportation. The U-46 Transportation Department handles transit for nearly 27,000 students daily who are transported to 58 different schools and programs. The department has the bandwidth to handle students in Educational Pathways as well. The exact routes and schedules will be determined once students have chosen their pathways.

Trade/Other Field Related Questions

  • Q: Is there an opportunity for union involvement in specialized fields?

    U-46: Currently there is not an identified partnership with any organized or specific unions. However, as we continue our work to include various work based learning experiences, this is an area that can be explored. 

    Q: Why is the fashion course being discontinued?

    U-46: The fashion courses will be gradually discontinued because during the pathways scoring sessions, the Fashion pathway did not score high enough to be continued as a pathway. The areas identified as being deficient were: low student enrollment, no early college or career credential available, and low outlook data for local and national employment. Students currently enrolled in the program may continue with the courses; however, no incoming freshmen may enroll in the fashion courses beginning with the incoming freshmen in 2020. 

    Q: What pathway would a plumber take?

    U-46: While we do not offer this trade as pathway, students interested in this professional career, would benefit in taking the environmental science, liberal arts, or manufacturing pathways.

    Q: Good plan overall… disappointed that there is no “trade” pathway. What industry credentials can be earned within pathways? Welding, auto, health?

    U-46: Because one of the required elements of each pathway is the ability for a student to earn an early college or career credential, we have developed specific distinct pathways for various trades to allow for students to earn such credentials. Because a required component to earning a credential revolves around instructional theory and hands-on lab time, it wouldn’t be possible to combine trades; thus each trade is it’s own pathway.

    Each of these three programs have already earned accreditation through a nationally recognized industry-aligned accrediting body: Automotive through Automotive Service Excellence (ASE); Welding through the American Welding Society (AWS); and Precision Manufacturing through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS.) As a result, each of these programs offer students the opportunity to earn nationally recognized industry credentials, including Maintenance & Light Repair Certification for those in the Automotive Pathway, Certified Welder Certification 1G-4G for those in the Welding Pathway, and NIMS Credentials in more than six areas for students in the Precision Manufacturing Pathway.

    Q: Will there be specific classes if someone wants to be an electrician?

    U-46: At this time, we do not have a pathway for Electrician.

    Q: Why do we not have a pathway option for carpentry?

    U-46: While we do not currently offer a carpentry pathway, this pathway may be considered in the future if it meets new pathway requirements.

    Q: Is JROTC still part of the plan?

    U-46: The JROTC pathway was always just a possible pathway, not a definite pathway. It is not among those that we are confident we will offer for students who enter high school in 2021-22. It could be considered in the future if it meets the requirements for a new pathway. We will continue to keep all partners updated on any new pathways.

Town Hall Questions

  • These are answers to questions asked during Town Hall sessions in the fall of 2019.

  • Q: What does Elgin Community College have to do with early college?

    U-46: U-46 has partnered with Elgin Community College to offer a dual credit program for students that are interested. In this program, students will be able to enroll in courses where they will receive both high school and college credit. The college credit earned will transfer with them once they enroll in a post-secondary institution after graduating from high school.

    Q: What is the difference between the AP Classes and the Dual Credit Program?

    U-46: Students can enroll in AP classes at their high school, where they will take an AP test near the end of the school year. In most cases, if they score a 3 or higher on the test, they will be eligible to receive college credit from the college they enroll in. The Dual Credit program provides students the opportunity to take coursework from Elgin Community College while earning both high school and college credit for all of their courses, which is transferable to most 4-year colleges.

    Q: If you get college credit from ECC or AP classes, is there a listing available to see what credits can transfer?

    U-46: All public and private colleges and universities in Illinois are required to accept an AP test score of 3 or higher for college credit. The Illinois Articulation Initiative has been working to develop a statewide transfer agreement that allows for course-to-course transfers between colleges and universities. Currently, more than 100 colleges and universities are participating in this agreement. Families can log on to to search any specific college courses and where they will transfer to.

    Q: Is Elgin Community College the only college offering Dual Credit program?

    U-46: Currently, Elgin Community College is the only college U-46 has established a partnership with to offer dual credit courses. The Illinois Community College Board has come out with new policies that allow the District to explore partnerships with other colleges for dual credit offerings, and we plan on exploring those options in the future.

    Q: Are each of the Pathways tied to different high schools and if so, how are they aligned?

    U-46: A majority of the pathways will be offered at all U-46 high schools. There will be additional pathways offered at specific high schools based on their specialized facilities, such as precision manufacturing, medical assistant, welding, and culinary arts and hospitality, etc.

    Q: Are there current Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses that the District already has in place that will become part of the Educational Pathways program?

    U-46: Yes. The current CTE courses that have already been established, such as precision manufacturing, medical assistant, patient care technician, PLTW, welding, automotive, and culinary arts, will be incorporated as pathways offered in their respective College and Career Academies.

    Q: If my student is enrolled in the gifted and dual language program, will they be able to be part of the magnet academies while still being enrolled in the gifted and dual language program?

    U-46: The District is working to build in the option for students to take Dual Language courses while enrolled in one of the magnet academies. Currently, this work has been completed at BEACON Academy at South Elgin High School and is being worked on for the other magnet academies. Educational Pathways will allow more flexibility to give students the opportunity to stay in Dual Language classes as they take Pathways classes.

    Q: Since Pathways does not roll out until students’ sophomore year in 2022-23, will our 7th graders apply for academies next year, and will they not take courses until sophomore year?

    U-46: Students will be able to make the choice to apply for one of the magnet academy programs during 8th grade. Students will decide which educational pathway they want to pursue during the course selection process in their freshman year of high school.

    Q: Are all of the standard pathways offered at all the schools? Are the specialized pathways school-specific?

    U-46: All high schools will host the same five College and Career Academies and a majority of the same pathways. Pathways that require specialized facilities will be specific to the schools that have the required facilities. Students from other schools still have the opportunity to enroll in these pathways. We are exploring if they will be transported to the school for their pathways classes or given the option to transfer from their home school to the school that is offering the pathway.

    Q: Can you explain what the freshman year electives look like in the Educational Pathways program?

    U-46: Freshman will have the option to enroll in a freshman seminar course that will support students in exploring their strengths and researching aligned careers and pathways in order to support them making an informed decision on which pathway to enroll in. Freshman will have access to all of the electives that current freshman have access to. 

    Q: Is there a system in place where students can enter into a magnet academy or college and career academy and then change academies?

    U-46: We don’t allow students to apply for 4 out of our 5 magnet academies after freshman year. The only exception to this is Larkin High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy, where students can still apply in their freshman year. Students can choose to leave their magnet academy to return to their home school to enroll in a college and career academy and pathway. Students will have the flexibility to change college and career academies and pathways during one of multiple entry and exit points that will typically occur at the end of the 1st or 2nd semester.

    Q: How do you accomplish small learning communities without having caps in pathways?

    U-46: In Pathways that have a larger amount of students, there will be smaller learning cohorts, where students will be taking their classes with the same group of students from sophomore to senior year. This will form the smaller learning communities where students can build deeper relationships with each other and their teachers.

    Q: Is the engineering curriculum going to be aligned with Project Lead the Way?

    U-46: A majority of the classes in the engineering pathways will be the current Project Lead the Way courses. The current vision includes an additional capstone class taken senior year.  This work is still under development

    Q: Will the pathways classes be replacing electives?

    U-46: No, Pathway classes will take up one or two periods in students’ schedules. Students will have the opportunity to take up to seven courses each semester if they choose to replace their study hall with a class and apply for the PE waiver. Some students may be able to fit two pathways in their schedule. Students will also be able to fit other electives into their schedule if they choose to do so.

    Q: If a student decides to take Dual Credit at Elgin Community College, when do they take the classes? How about transportation?

    U-46: Students can enroll in a part-time or full-time dual credit program while in U-46. In the part-time program, dual credit classes are taught by approved U-46 staff at students’ high school during one of their periods. In the full-time program, students will meet with an academic advisor at Elgin Community College to create a full-time class schedule based on their interests. The District does not provide transportation to Elgin Community College for the full-time dual credit program. Final - LM 

    Q: How can we trust middle school students to make a decision on what they want to do for a career in 8th grade? Are we pigeonholing students by having them enroll pathways with prescribed electives?

    U-46: We’re not asking middle school students to make a decision on their future now. Educational Pathways is focused on giving them opportunities to explore their interests as it relates to careers. We are forming relationships between students and staff to help them explore their interests, what they want to do after high school, and how we can help prepare them for their future. All pathways will have multiple entry and exit points to ensure students have flexibility for exploration during high school that include core graduation requirements, pathways courses, and electives. 

    Q: Why doesn’t a representative from each high school come to middle schools to present their magnet academies?

    U-46: To have the most effective reach across the entire District, each high school magnet academy hosts open houses several nights in September for 8th graders and their families to attend. At these events, they share more about the unique curriculum in their program in the application process.

    Q: Why is the process for registering for courses different at each of the middle and high schools?

    U-46: There are currently different systems set up at each site for students to register for courses.  This is because each site is different and what may work for one site may not work for another. We are working with middle schools and high schools to create a more uniform registration process while still allowing sites some flexibility to meet the needs of their students. 

    Q: Will counselors be stepping in to help students with guiding them to a pathway that aligns to their interests?

    U-46: Counselors are becoming more hands-on in supporting students as they explore pathways that align with their interests. We are currently establishing a consistent framework for our middle and high school counselors to ensure they have strong relationships with students to help them make decisions for their futures. We are also exploring what it might look like to increase the number of middle and high school counselors to help support this work.

    Q: When you decide what classes are specific for a pathway, will we be able to see them before we pick a pathway?

    U-46: Yes, we are working on a curriculum guide that incorporates the pathways and the classes within each pathway. The curriculum is currently being developed and a draft of the proposed course sequences for each pathway can be found at