Reick, Ives question $2 million outlay for competency-based education program
Rep. Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) had questions and Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) had a strong opinion to share when Kankakee School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Felice Hybert proposed launching a $2 million pilot program for competency-based learning at the House Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education Committee hearing recently.
“I think this is a historic forefront in education to transform education from the Industrial Age to designing a rigorous experience,” Hybert said.
Hybert said the program is not a reform, rather a transformation for high school students, which allows for learning outside of the traditional classroom setting by allowing students to begin post-secondary college learning while still in high school. The competency-based learning grant, which offers internships and mentorships personalized to learning plans, will enable students to work within the community that Hybert said has up to 3,500 job openings.
That was when Reick wanted to know more.
After Reick asked Hybert what the nature of these new jobs were, she said there are a plethora of technology and pharmaceutical job openings as well as math and science-related positions in the area.
Reick then wanted to know if the pilot program offered cross-pollination opportunities between the school district and Kankakee Community College, specifically in technology, manufacturing and education, and was told it does.
While Reick was a bit more reserved in his inquiry, Ives was not.
Ives began her inquiry citing Illinois State Board of Education (ISBOE) statistics to question Kankakee School District students' capability to even be part of the competency-based program, noting only 11.3 percent of students are rated at proficiency level and only 19 percent graduate after 13 years in the district college ready.
“I don’t know why a district like yours that is struggling academically is willing to buy into this entire idea that we are going to now learn outside of school when they haven’t mastered obviously the requirements for in school,” Ives said.
Hybert countered by saying the numbers prove students have disengaged with the traditional school setting and need a change,
Ives still was not convinced, however, and said the risk of taking $2 million to fund a pilot program with no proven success is a no for her.
“I am sorry, I am just not buying it,” Ives said.