2017 Advisor Development Conference

On September 29, 2017, SkillsUSA Illinois hosted their first ever Advisor Development Conference. Attendance was great, with 39 advisors representing 21 different schools. This conference was a great opportunity for advisors to see the new program offerings coming from SkillsUSA, discuss challenges that chapters face, and explore future growth potentials for the organization.

SkillsUSA Illinois thanks the schools in attendance for their continued support and for their participation this wonderful event.

Schools in Attendance:

  • A A Stagg High School
  • Argo Community High School
  • Bloomington Area Career Center
  • Carbondale Community High School
  • Carl Sandburg High School
  • Danville Area Community College
  • Glenbrook South High School
  • Grundy Area Vocational center
  • Homewood Floosmoor High School
  • Indian Valley Vocational Center
  • Jefferson High School
  • Kishwaukee Educational Consortium
  • Lake County High School Technology Campus
  • Lincoln Way East High School
  • Lincoln Way West High School
  • Metea Valley High School
  • Peoria Public Schools
  • Victor J Andrew High School
  • Waubonsie Valley High School
  • West Aurora High School
  • Wilco Area Career Center

SkillsUSA Framework

Dallas Terry, from Carbondale Community High School, lead the discussion on the SkillsUSA Framework. The SkillsUSA Framework illustrates how students fulfill the mission of the organization “to empower members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.”

The SkillsUSA Framework works by empowering every student to achieve career success, delivering a skill set demanded by industry but lacking in many employees today, and ensures that every student member receives a consistent and specific skill set. We use the SkillsUSA Framework to provide a common language for students to articulate what they gain from SkillsUSA participation, assess student skill development along a learning continuum of awareness, demonstration, and mastery, and it has minimal impact, but substantial potential, on valuable classroom instruction.

Dallas discussed opportunities to embed the Framework into the classroom and showed the value of students being able to articulate awareness of these critical skills they are learning in the classroom.

Dallas finished the session with a video on the SkillsUSA Framework.

SkillsUSA Career Essentials Suite

Eric Hill, Executive Director of SkillsUSA Illinois, presented on the SkillsUSA Career Essentials Suite. SkillsUSA Career Essentials Suite ensures your students have the foundational skills, attitudes and values to distinguish them from other applicants in the skilled labor marketplace. Attendees were able to discover how the SkillsUSA Career Essentials Suite is the solution to your needs in producing career-ready graduates, prepared to face the 21st-century demands of employers. The SkillsUSA Career Essentials Suite is composed of three offerings:

SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences

Working together in teams, understanding leadership, communicating clearly and demonstrating integrity are required in any career. However, these skills aren’t easy to teach – until now. SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences is the next generation of employability skill-building curricula developed for today’s students. SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences is everything you need to give your students what they need to be career-ready.

SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences prepares students for the transition to the workforce or higher education through authentic project-based experiences. The online curriculum empowers teachers with high-quality skill development resources and advances the impact of the SkillsUSA Framework.

SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences has 15 project-based learning experiences that contextualize the essential elements of the SkillsUSA Framework in real-work situations. There are nine fundamental experiences that can be completed within one academic year but can be extended or shortened to meet local needs. In addition, the curriculum has five advanced experiences and a capstone experience that can be completed within an academic year.

SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Assessments

With SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Assessments, we can now provide a path to other professional certifications and pave the way ahead for our future workforce.

The SkillsUSA Career Essentials suite provides assessments for career and technical education that are supported by industry, education and policy leaders. SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Assessments parallels SkillsUSA’s successful philosophy of hands- on, authentic methods. The system helps instructors prove the benefit of their programs and helps students develop rewarding careers.

Available in more than 40 technical and employability areas, including co-branded ones with ASE/AYES and PrintED/GAERF, the assessments offer a reliable evaluation of technical knowledge and skill. Assessments are supported by a comprehensive system that makes administration simple. They are designed to be used for end-of-unit, end-of-course or end-of-program, depending on the design of your curriculum.

 SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Foundations

The SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Foundations can help ensure that you prepare your students for entry into the world of work. SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Foundations builds an awareness of the SkillsUSA Framework, which includes personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics — all essential to a successful career and technical education program. This turnkey curriculum includes 29 teacher-facilitated lesson plans based on Common Core State Standards. It infuses 21st- century skills into student engagement activities and is considered the first building block in the Career Essentials continuum.

Each advisor was provided with access to a live demo of an experiences from SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Experiences and discussed the pricing relevant to the suite of products.

Anyone that would like to learn more can email Eric at ehill@skillsusaillinois.org or visit http://www.careeressentials.org


SkillsUSA Illinois State Championships: Update Session

Chris Anderson, Director of Education and Assessment, led the discussion on State Championships and the updates to the registration, and hotel accommodations. Updates and information on the SkillsUSA Illinois State Championships and State Leadership & Skills Conference. Topics covered include registration, hotel accommodations, delegate sessions, social, policy updates, and. demonstration contests.

Important Dates:

State Qualifying Exams – February 21–28, Online
Registration Deadline: February 9

Membership Deadline – February 15

State Leadership & Skills Conference – April 19–21, 2018, Springfield, IL
Registration Deadline: March 16

Hotels in Springfield: (Hotel Blocks open March 16, 2018)

  • President Abraham Lincoln (Hilton)
  • Wyndham City Center
  • Hampton Inn (Dirksen)
  • Drury Inn (Dirksen)
  • Hilton Garden Inn (Dirksen)
  • Carpenter Street Hotel
  • State House Inn

National Demonstration Contests:

During this session, Chris also discussed the national demonstration contests for the 2017-2018 year. A survey coming out in December that will look at not only these contests, but some contests that have seen lower participation as well as determine which contests to pursue.

  • Collision Repair: Estimating
    • Handwritten estimate, frontal damage, rear damage, virtual estimate from total loss vehicle inspection report, and interview
  • Cyber Security
    • Assume administrative and protective duties for an existing “commercial” network – typically a small company with 30+ users, 3 to 5 servers, and common Internet services such as a web server, mail server, and e-commerce site
  •  Barbering
    • Cutting and Shaping Hair, Wet or Blow-Dry Styling, and Communication Skills
  • Adding to CNC Technician
    • Cam Programming
  • ASE – MLR – Light Vehicle Maintenance

After the Championship updates, the group split the group into two sessions. Session one was for new advisors, who worked with Dallas on creating a plan for their new chapters and looked at what it takes to run SkillsUSA at the local level. The second session was an opportunity for SkillsUSA Illinois’ seasoned advisors to take a deeper dive into the processes of SkillsUSA Illinois.

State Qualifying Exams:

Again, SkillsUSA Illinois will partner with Cengage Learning for the State Qualifying Exams. Based on feedback from last year, list of contests was developed that will be updated or modified to better match the contest that the test represents. The list of exams that are being looked at this year are:

  • Automotive Refinishing Technology
  • Automotive Service Technology
  • Cabinetmaking
  • Commercial Baking
  • Culinary Arts
  • First Aid & CPR
  • Firefighting
  • Graphic Communications
  • Photography
  • Screen Printing Technology
  • Telecommunications Cabling

Thank you for taking the time to fill out the survey and help ensure that SkillsUSA Illinois is offering a quality exam to students.

There have also been many backend system improvements to the exam platform. The student’s exam score will no longer show upon completion. While this was developed with good intentions, displaying the scores upon completion lead to unnecessary anxiety for the students. These contests and qualifying exams cover such a broad topic of information, it is not reasonable to expect students to perform at the levels they are used to performing at in the classroom.

Exam Preparation Guides will continue to be refined this upcoming year. Last year was the first year any type of preparation guide has been offered. These were highly sought for many years and will be continuously improved. Guides will be very broad and show all topics that may be covered.

SkillsUSA Illinois has been working to identify and update all exams that will be used. The books that the exams are based on identified by the end of December; with Preparation Guides available shortly after.

Once the books have all been identified, advisors will be offered access to a sample test. This will allow you to see the general scope of the test and provide feedback on the quality of questions. Using your feedback, SkillsUSA Illinois hopes to grow and improve this system over the next few years.

State Competitions:

Technical Standards – Technical Standards will be delivered with your professional membership via the registration system. Technical Standards have been updated – please be sure to best prepare your students by finding the most updated (2017-18) version of the Technical Standards. All advisors should have an account with the registration and be able to access this information. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the state office.

Illinois Specific Updates: Due to the limited time and resources available during the SkillsUSA Illinois State Championships, state contests must condense or make modifications to the technical standards. Any changes that will be made to contest will be posted on the Championships Update section of the SkillsUSA Illinois website. Please look for more information in emails early next year.

State Conference Penalty Explanation: Several advisors over the past few years have been requesting details for why a penalty was given. This year, supervisors will be required to complete a penalty explanation page. This will not be provided directly to schools, but if any school wishes to have further explanation on the penalty that will be able to be provided. 

Cluster Advisor Meeting: It was requested by several of the advisors in the meeting, that committees be setup, based on the ten clusters, to discuss specifics around the qualifying exams and state competitions. This will be a great way for these groups to meet and discuss the contests that are specific to their industry.

The ten clusters that represented include:

  • A/V Technology and Communications
  • Architecture and Construction
  • Food, Hospitality, and Human Services
  • Health Sciences
  • Leadership Development
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Safety
  • STEM and Information Technology
  • Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Look for an email that will explain this process. The hope is that as these groups meet, in their professional organizations, times can be arranged to meet about SkillsUSA specific content.

That concluded the discussions on the SkillsUSA Illinois State Leadership and Skills Conference. For specific questions about the State Championships or SLSC, please contact Chris Anderson at canderson@skillsusaillinois.org.


SkillsUSA Illinois Program Updates

SkillsUSA Illinois L.E.A.D. Conference:

Chris Anderson reported on the 2017 L.E.A.D. Conference. This year’s conference will be held at the Tinley Park Convention Center from December 7-9. At this year’s conference, students will focus on developing an understanding of the SkillsUSA Framework, gain a toolbox of skills that can be used to lead others, and increase career readiness through experience. More information about L.E.A.D. Conference here.


State Officer Development Program
Chris Anderson shared information about the new State Officer Development Program. This is the ultimate student growth and leadership experience where students have the opportunity to lead the organization, grow professionally, and develop facilitation skills.

Elections are held at both SLSC and L.E.A.D. If you have any questions, please contact Chris Anderson. More information about being a State Officer here.

Future Planning and Organization:

Another topic covered was the idea of a regional testing model. In 2017, SkillsUSA Illinois tested over 2,500 students for the State Qualifying Exams. Of the over 2,500 tested, 900 of those students never registered or participated in the 2017 State Leadership and Skills Conference. Illinois is the only state that is currently offering qualifying exams as a medium to have students qualify for the State Championships. Other states have two models, they either set a specific number of places, per school, to compete at their state conference or a regional competition model.

The concern is that students who get excited to belong to SkillsUSA, pay local chapter fees, state and national membership fees, and qualifying exam fees, then get told they did not qualify for SLSC and are done with SkillsUSA for the year. The best opportunity that SkillsUSA offers to members is the hands-on practical experience of what will be expected of them as they enter the work force. Students get the opportunity to work with business and industry professionals and get real exposure to opportunities in their field. Last year, 36% of students never got the chance to experience that hands-on experience. That is going change!

SkillsUSA Illinois is proposing a move to a regional based, hands-on competition. This will start by looking at the highest number of tested competitions and start small with 10-15 contest, continuing to add contests every year.

The goal is to give EVERY student in Illinois the opportunity to have a hands-on practical experience when they join SkillsUSA! Again, this will guarantee that EVERY student has opportunity to grow in SkillsUSA!

This will be a shift in the way chapters operate in Illinois. Exploration into different fee models to provide a fair opportunity to the current members and allow for a smooth transition into this regional model.

SkillsUSA Illinois is currently broken up into seven regions.

These regions would be split into three sections, combining regions 3 and 1, 7 and 4, and 5 and 6.

A competition event will be hosted in each of these three regions. The location for these events has not yet been determined.

From each of these competition events, the top three places of each contest automatically advance onto the State Championships at the State Leadership and Skills Conference.

The goal with this is to provide an opportunity to students and not limit opportunities for students, so State Qualifying Exams will continue to be available all schools to still be able to qualify for State Conference. Any student that registers for the regional competition will take the State Qualifying Exam as one of their components of the competition. If those students do not place in the top three spots, their SQE scores will be compared against all the other SQE results across the state. The first nine spots will be secured from the regional competitions and the remaining spots will be offered to the highest scoring students on the State Qualifying Exam.

The plan is to pilot this offering during the 2018-2019 school year. The following contests have been identified as possible for regional contests.

  1. Architectural Drafting (CAD)
  2. Automotive Refinishing Technology
  3. Automotive Service Technology
  4. Cabinetmaking
  5. Carpentry
  6. Collision Repair Technology
  7. Commercial Baking
  8. Computer Programming
  9. Cosmetology
  10. Criminal Justice
  11. Culinary Arts
  12. Diesel Equipment Technology
  13. Early Childhood Education
  14. Emergency Medical Technician
  15. Esthetics
  16. Firefighting
  17. Job Interview
  18. Nurse Assisting
  19. Power Equipment Technology
  20. Technical Drafting (CAD)
  21. Welding

This is an exciting opportunity to provide for student members. Evaluation for possible locations and costs is still ongoing as the hope is to keep the cost for these events as low as possible. It is the goal to offer regional competitions to ALL students in SkillsUSA Illinois at a cost between $20-$40 per student. This would include the $10 testing fee that they have already paid in the past. This hands-on opportunity would be well worth the $10 to $30 fee.

Please look for more information in upcoming emails keeping everyone updated and informed on this. Your feedback is very important moving forward with this process.

Chapter Excellence Program

The final item discussed at ADC was the SkillsUSA Chapter Excellence Program. This is a recognition program and a roadmap for you to gauge the success of your local SkillsUSA program.

The Chapter Excellence Program takes the guesswork out of what it looks like to be a healthy SkillsUSA chapter. It provides the requirements and indicators that meet the standards for success and prepares members for career readiness as defined in the SkillsUSA Framework.

Be sure to start your CEP application this year!

Here is a link to the 2016 SkillsUSA Chapter Excellence Award Ceremony where one of SkillsUSA Illinois’ very own chapters, Peotone High School, was recognized as one of the 24 chapters in the country who received the recognition of Models of Excellence!

We would just like to take a moment to, again, thank all our schools that participated in the SkillsUSA Illinois Advisor Development Conference. We are so grateful for your support and dedication to this great organization.

If you were not able to attend this year, we hope that you share this information with your other advisors and strongly consider this conference next year.

Thank you all for your support of SkillsUSA Illinois.

Respectfully submitted,

Eric Hill

Executive Director

SkillsUSA Illinois, Inc.