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The Illinois High School to College Transition project is focused on improving students’ success in making the transition from high school to postsecondary studies. With generous support from the Joyce Foundation and College Board, Advance Illinois and Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University led a five-month planning process in 2015 with representatives from nine regional teams, state education agencies, and national experts. 

The first phase of this project culminated in a report that contains four key components developed through information gathering and discussions with the regional teams:

  • A framework with articulated elements and examples of regional best practices to serve as a guide for local action, state policy alignment, and philanthropic investment;
  • Performance metrics aligned to the framework for measuring progress at the state and community levels and informing efforts to improve systems performance;
  • State policy recommendations to support and accelerate local action aligned to the framework; and
  • Recommendations for external investment from either state agencies or philanthropies to scale up practices aligned to the framework and deliver supports across multiple regions and statewide. 

The planning process led to several important outcomes:

  1. It established a network of regions from across Illinois that have impressive practices in place for supporting student transitions from high school to postsecondary education and beyond.
  2. It enabled the development of a coherent framework for aligning high school and postsecondary education systems to provide students with well-articulated paths for credential and degree attainment
  3. It identified opportunities for state policy action and strategic state and philanthropic investments that will support and accelerate local alignment efforts.

Illinois can build from the regional efforts and framework developed in this project to establish an aligned statewide system for placing more high school graduates on a path to attain a postsecondary credential or degree with lifelong value.  We hope that policymakers, funders, education practitioners, and community stakeholders will utilize the framework and recommendations in this report to guide the development of such a system.