Individualized Learning Plans Webinar Questions: Part 2 – Fostering School-Wide Buy-in of ILPs

This post is the second in a series following the May 29 webinar, “The Use of Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) to Help Students to be College and Career Ready,” where presenters are responding to questions submitted by participants. The first post in this series is available here.

Question: It’s important that ILPs extend beyond just the school counselor and are part of a school-wide culture. Are curriculum guides or other resources used to integrate ILPs into classroom instruction and develop meaningful student pathways? In South Carolina and Colorado, professional development for ILPs was provided primarily for school counselors and district administrators. What do your ongoing professional development plans look like and how might they include teachers and other adults so that ILPs are encouraged school and community-wide? What other strategies can you use to integrate ILPs into the school culture and tap teachers and others as supports?

Sabrina Moore: A Pathways to Success Career Cluster Guide was developed for each of the 16 career clusters and provided to every school in South Carolina. Each guide includes a step-by-step approach for creating an IGP; salary, education requirements, and job growth information for 25 occupations in each of the 16 clusters; and additional resources. As a component of the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), regional education centers (RECs) were established in 12 areas of South Carolina. The RECs, responsible for coordinating and facilitating career awareness and readiness activities, work closely with businesses to provide opportunities for teachers to “work in” and/or tour industries to get a better understanding of the connection between (or relevancy of) their subject matter and industry demands. Ideally, then, the teachers integrate the knowledge they gain into their classroom instruction thereby increasing relevancy from the students’ perspectives. Additionally, each year the Office of Career and Technology Education at the South Carolina Department of Education hosts the Education and Business Summit. This venue allows teachers and business leaders (in addition to counselors and career specialists) numerous opportunities to discover strategies for “connecting businesses to the classroom.”

Misti Ruthven: Implementation of American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national models as well as other models reflect this crucial integration of messaging, curriculum and resources. In Colorado, we have begun to melt these messages together that ILPs are not a separate initiative, but support Colorado’s efforts around career and college readiness. Regarding future professional development plans, we anticipate providing an expanded resource bank, podcasts and archived webinars around ILP development and implementation in order to reinforce these tools and messages.

Scott Solberg and Mindy Larson: The schools we worked with as part of our initial research studies voiced the same concern about the lack of curricula and resources they could use in the classroom. As a result, we created an ILP How To Guide (Promoting Quality Individualized Learning Plans: A “How to Guide” Focused on the High School Years) that provides access to a range of free and open-source materials and activities that teachers and other school staff can use to design age and grade appropriate ILP curricula for the classroom. 

We agree that focusing on ILPs as a school counseling activity can limit the shared ownership needed to implement ILPs in a whole-school format. The research indicates that you need whole school buy-in to successfully implement ILPs. The ILP How To Guide offers strategies that district and school leaders can use to develop whole-school buy-in (see Section II:

Question: Students with disabilities have been a major focus as states develop ILPs. How have other special populations been addressed? Is there a role for ILPs in non-traditional school settings (e.g. alternative schools, GED programs, juvenile justice programs, etc.)?

Sabrina Moore: Because all students in South Carolina are required to have an IGP, students enrolled in alternative schools, the Department of Juvenile Justice programs, and other special schools (e.g. South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind) participate in IGP conferences and develop IGPs. However, students who have dropped out of school and are enrolled in GED programs do not, generally, have IGPs.

Misti Ruthven: The ICAP/ILP is for all students in Colorado to explore their educational journey beyond high school. We have created a crosswalk between the IEP and ICAP to outline the intersections between the two plans and the opportunities beyond high school.

Scott Solberg and Mindy Larson: Yes on all counts. The Department of Labor was especially interested in disabilities because the transition IEP shares so many features with ILPs. And, there is no doubt that we need advocacy organizations, families, higher education, and others who support youth in different contexts to become involved in ILPs.

Check back on Thursday, June 27, for the final post in this series when the presenters address questions related to dual enrollment and ILPs and share examples of other evidence-based practices related to ILPs.

Andrew Valent is a Program Associate at the American Youth Policy Forum.

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