The Shifting Gears initiative was a critical component of a large, multi-state effort to link education, workforce development and economic development at local and regional levels. Illinois’ Shifting Gears initiative was aimed at implementing policy changes that support bridge programs that help adult learners transition to postsecondary educational opportunities and provide training and credentials to enter the workforce in high-demand middle skill jobs. Phase one of Shifting Gears, completed June 30, 2009, resulted in implementation of bridges at ten community college pilot sites; the creation and initial implementation of a policy agenda, including a standard bridge definition*; a transitions report that included bridge student measures; and evaluation of bridge program implementation and state policy; access the evaluation report for Shifting Gears, "Initial Results of Illinois' Shifting Gears Pilot Demonstration Evaluation." The Illinois Bridge Directory provides information about the colleges and the programs of study including in this study.
Phase two activities were targeted at refining state policy, especially student support services and bridge program models and promising practices. Catherine Kirby served as the Project Manager of SG 2.0, which included Illinois’ efforts to advance state policy related to student support services, continuous improvement (including Pathways To Results), data collection and analysis, and performance management.
* Standard bridge definition created by the Shifting Gears Workgroup’s Bridge Definition subcommittee.
Phase two of Shifting Gears emphasized
- Engagement of state decision makers in developing and implementing bridge-related policies
- Development and institutionalization of bridge program models and practices
- Strengthening data systems and expanding performance measures and tracking
- Communicating practices and policies to decision makers and the public