Voices and Viewpoints

Realizing their dreams: Implementing an Individualized Learning Plan process to build student success

by Heather L. Fox / Mar 10, 2014

How does your educational institution support students as they explore career possibilities and pursue their goals?

As young children, we explore countless possible careers, mimicking those we see in our lives and the media around us. This early play allows us to learn about the world we live in and to freely explore the idea of work and careers. As we progress through our education, we not only learn about the subjects taught in our classrooms but we also learn about ourselves. What interests us? What is important to us? What are we good at? For most of us, this is a lifelong process as we learn and continue to grow in our careers. However, to successfully navigate a career, we need to develop a set of foundational skills in reflection, research, goal setting, and planning.

Supporting students in learning about themselves, career options, goal setting, and planning are key aspects of the Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) process. The student-centered ILP process encourages students take an active role in assessing, reflecting on, and planning based on their academic, career, and personal goals. This process provides an entry point for students to engage with their selected career area. ILPs are living documents that are created through a student-centered process that results in a customized educational plan that is reflective of the student’s academic, career, and personal goals. Individualized Learning Plans are part of a comprehensive school-counseling approach that has been shown to improve students’ college and career readiness.

While the primary beneficiaries of ILPs are students, educators (both secondary and postsecondary), school districts, and state policy makers gain valuable information through the process, which allows the overall educational system to more effectively respond to, and meet, the educational needs of their students. Ideally, ILP processes begin in the middle grades, continuing with the student through high school and into postsecondary education.

Are you ready to help your students achieve their dreams? The Achieving their Dreams: Implementing an Individualized Learning Plan Process to Build Student Success guide provides school districts with a framework to develop high quality Individualized Learning Plans and a model for implementing an Individualized Learning Plan process. Tools, templates, and additional resources are provided to assist professionals as they implement ILP processes and support students’ career exploration and pursuits.

Heather L. Fox is the Program Coordinator for Pathways Resource Center at OCCRL.  Heather is passionate about supporting P-14 districts efforts to provide students with equitable and high quality Programs of Study, and their efforts to help students of all ages to identify and pursue their career aspirations.

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