Individualized Learning Plans: An Entry Point to Program of Study and Career Pathways

by Heather L. Fox / Sep 12, 2013

How is your institution supporting students as it explores career possibilities and pursues its career goals?

Choosing a career path is a daunting process for most individuals, and this is especially true for youth who are still learning about themselves and the opportunities available to them. Do you remember being asked, “what do you want to do when you grow up” as a child? I do and I remember being struck dumb by the enormity of the question! What I do not remember is anyone providing me with tools to help me discover a good answer to that question.

The Individualized Learning Process helps to bridge students’ transition into and progress through Programs of Study and into Career Pathways. An Individualized Learning Plan is a living document that is created through a student-centered process that results in a customized educational plan reflective of the student’s academic, career, and personal goals. Most school districts using Individualized Learning Plans elect to start engaging students in the planning process between sixth and eighth grades through career exploration activities and skills/interest assessments.

The Individualized Learning Process and the resulting plan begin with a broad framework and become increasingly specific as the student engages in and develops skills toward a specific Program of Study and Career Pathway. Individualized Learning Plans: An Entry Point to Program of Study and Career Pathways, a research brief just released by the Pathways Resource Center, provides an overview of the Individualized Learning Planning process, including key concepts and components of Individualized Learning Plans and the benefits associated with these processes. Recommendations for school districts that are implementing an Individualized Learning Process also are provided.

The Pathways Resource Center is developing a guide for school district officials who seek to implement or improve their Individualized Learning Planning process. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? We’d like to hear about it from the perspective of students, parents, and district personnel who have experiences with the Individualized Learning Planning process.

Heather L. Fox is passionate about supporting P-14 districts' efforts to provide students with equitable and high-quality Programs of Study, as well as their efforts to help students of all ages identify and pursue their career aspirations.