College preparation with an edge
Today's jobs demand more knowledge and higher levels of skill than ever before. They require people who have solid academics, technical proficiency, productive work habits, problem-solving skills, communication skills and the ability to think logically and work in teams.
The majority of these jobs require education beyond high school, with knowledge and skills learned in college courses and technical schools, in internships and through other worksite experiences or apprenticeships.
What is PCCS?
PCCS is a program in Illinois high schools, community colleges and other postsecondary educational settings that puts students on a track toward high-tech, high-wage careers. It is a planned sequence of academic course work and rigorous technical education.
PCCS begins in high school and requires at least two years additional education in a college, technical school, an apprenticeship or other training.
It first introduces students to various careers, offering them options based on their goals, abilities and commitment. It then provides a planned sequence of courses from secondary through postsecondary education, often including the opportunity for worksite learning, to help them become qualified for their chosen careers.
PCCS prepares students for interesting high-wage, high-tech careers and satisfying lives.
What are the benefits?
- Ability to obtain college credit for courses completed in high school
- A strong core of academics from which to move into a variety of career areas
- Cutting-edge technical expertise
- Exposure to high-paying careers
- Opportunities to visit worksites, participate in internships and gain an inside look at the world of work
- Reduced tuition costs and other expenses as students earn tuition-free college credits while still in high school
- More motivated students with a focus
For teachers and schools
- More interesting course work, resulting in fewer disciplinary problems
- A higher percentage of students who stay in school to complete their education—93 percent of PCCS students graduate from high school, compared with 82 percent of all students
- Students who assume more personal responsibility
For colleges and other postsecondary education and training institutions
- More high school graduates enroll in advanced education and training
- Students are better prepared for education after high school
- The transition from high school to advanced education is smoother because of the rational progression of coursework developed cooperatively by schools and employers
- Better educated workers who are prepared to grow and develop on the job
- Less shortage of skilled workers
- Reduced employer training costs
- Employees who know how to apply knowledge and skills to solve work-related problems
- A world-class workforce able to outwork, outproduce and outsmart the global competition
For the community
- A healthy economy with workers earning high wages to spend and invest
- An improved quality of life supported by successful businesses and well-paid residents of the community
- An educated citizenry that is prepared to contribute to the cultural and civic life
What is articulation?
The term "articulation" refers to the process of linking two or more educational systems. The goal is to make a smooth transition from one level to another without causing delays, duplication of courses or loss of credits.
High schools, community colleges or other education institutions and employers work together to develop career paths from one institution to another to avoid duplication of coursework and to provide a smooth sequence of classes from one level to another. In fact, in some schools students can earn college credit for the courses they are taking while in high school, thus saving both time and tuition dollars.
How does PCCS relate to the Illinois Learning Standards?
Rigorous academic and technical courses help ensure that students meet the Illinois Learning Standards. The Illinois Learning Standards provide clear and meaningful measures and benchmarks that set goals for the combination of knowledge and skills students should be acquiring. The course sequences in PCCS dovetail with both the philosophic and academic goals of the Learning Standards.
How are teachers involved?
Teachers play a key role both by telling students about PCCS and by helping students identify their own strengths and encouraging them to explore careers. Academic and technical teachers can work together to ensure students are getting a well-rounded education with a strong academic foundation combined with cutting-edge technical expertise.
Teachers can also help students learn how their coursework applies to various jobs. They can bring community resources into the classroom or help arrange worksite visits for students so they can learn about jobs and what's required to become qualified for certain careers.
They can encourage students to take rigorous core academic courses—particularly algebra, geometry, science, and English or communications—and challenging vocational courses with strong applied academic content.
Teachers know that the base provided in high school is critical to a student's success in life. A major reason many students who enter a degree program never complete it is that they're poorly prepared for education beyond high school. Nearly 3 of 10 freshmen enrolled in two- and four-year public and private colleges in the fall of 1995 were so far behind in at least one subject that they were forced to take a remedial, noncredit course. Students who need such courses are most likely to drop out of school.
Who is PCCS aimed at?
PCCS is aimed at students who are interested in and capable of succeeding in high-tech, high-wage careers.
The career areas these students work toward include:
- Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Arts and Communications
- Business and Administrative Services
- Health Care
- Human and Family Services
- Industrial and Engineering Technology
How do students, teachers, parents, employers and the community learn more about PCCS?
Information about PCCS is available from guidance counselors, PCCS coordinators, school principals and local PCCS consortia.
For a printed version of this page, see What Every New Teacher in Illinois Should Know About PCCS.