JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Illinois PaCE

Illinois PaCE: Postsecondary and
Career Expectations

The Illinois PaCE Framework was developed with extensive input gathered from stakeholders and subject matter experts to provide guidance to students, families, and educators on what types of experiences and information a student should have in order to make the most informed decisions about college and career planning, beginning in 8th grade and continuing through high school. The framework was recently extended by statute to begin in 6th grade, with an updated framework required from the State’s educational agencies by no later than July 1st, 2023. The framework is organized around three key areas:

  • Career Exploration and Development
  • Postsecondary Education Exploration, Preparation, and Selection
  • Financial Aid and Literacy

It is recognized that high schools and communities provide a broad array of college and career readiness activities for students, but they are not always documented and/or connected to other initiatives within a school, district, or community. The intent of the PaCE Framework is for it to be an organizing tool to help acknowledge and connect areas of success and identify those that may need additional attention or resources.

The PaCE Framework has been adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for benchmarking key points in the college and career planning process for students. With legislation passed and signed into law in June, 2022, Illinois public school districts will be required to adopt and implement a PaCE Framework for grades 6-12 aligned to the Illinois PaCE Framework adopted by the State agencies. (This could be the Illinois PaCE Framework or a customized framework.) The law mandates the following adoption and implementation schedule for a PaCE framework:

  • No later than July 1, 2024: Chicago Public Schools shall adopt and commence implementation of a PaCE Framework for grades 6-12 aligned to the framework adopted by the State agencies.
  • No later than July 1, 2025: A school district (other than Chicago’s) shall adopt and commence implementation of career exploration and career development activities in accordance with a PaCE Framework for grades 6 – 12.

Frameworks must be prominently displayed on each district/school website.

In addition, the legislation requires school districts to adopt College and Career Pathway Endorsements per the schedule set forth in the law. For more information on College and Career Pathway Endorsements, see https://www.isbe.net/pathwayendorsements

Per the new law, schools may opt out of implementation of the framework and endorsements under specified circumstances.

For more information on the background of PaCE, please see the section below under History.

If a school, district, or community would like their framework to be added, send a copy of the framework to [email protected].

PaCE Support and Training

ISAC offers several options to train and assist schools in understanding and adopting the Illinois PaCE Framework or developing a customized framework to fit their needs. Visit the PaCE Support and Training page for specific details.


See samples of customized frameworks being used at schools across Illinois by visiting the Illinois PaCE: Customized Framework Examples page.

Visit the Resource Materials page for a listing of resources that are available for students, families, and educators to support students' efforts in making the most informed decisions about college and career planning.

PaCE Framework History

In the Spring of 2015, the Illinois House adopted House Resolution (HR) 477, a resolution calling for the agencies participating in the Illinois Pathways Interagency Committee, which included the State Board of Education, Community College Board, Board of Higher Education, Student Assistance Commission, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Department of Employment Security, to study methods to better prepare high school graduates for success in college and/or career. That resolution led to the formation of four advisory committees focused on distinct strategy areas for improving student outcomes. More than 120 stakeholders participated in the study and consensus building work and recommendations were presented to the Illinois P-20 Council. The College and Career Readiness Committee of the P-20 council adopted the recommendations. In 2016, HB 5729 was introduced, a bill that incorporated the work of the HR477 committees and community feedback. The bill was passed and signed into law in July of 2016, and Public Act 99-0674 established the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act.

In June 2022, HB 3296 was signed into law (Public Act 102-0917), requiring that school districts establish career pathway endorsement programs and adopt either the model Illinois PaCE Framework or a customized version during the coming years. Districts may opt out under specified circumstances. The law also requires that the working group that developed the PaCE Framework add descriptions of supports that should be provided for younger students, starting with grade 6. Some details of the implementation timeline are provided above.