Individualized Learning Plans Webinar Questions: Part 3 – Postsecondary/Workforce Opportunities and Evidence-based Interventions

This post is the last 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.

Question: How can dual enrollment programs or industry-recognized credentials be incorporated into ILP processes? Have states advised or required students to pursue such opportunities related to postsecondary/careers?

Sabrina Moore: During the IGP conference, counselors are expected to discuss dual enrollment and/or industry certification opportunities with students. Additionally, because South Carolina’s electronic IGP system is integrated with the state’s PowerSchool Student Information System, dual enrollment credits and earned industry certifications are displayed on the IGP.

Misti Ruthven: Students participating in dual enrollment or concurrent enrollment programs must have an up-to-date ILP and plan of study. In Colorado, we have found that this reinforcement of a student’s decision allow for greater participation of adult role models and gives students an opportunity to reflect their goals through multiple vehicles. This direct connection helps to solidify a student’s commitment to taking college-level courses and reflects their success. This process assists students in understanding that college-level courses will reflect directly on their future opportunities.

Scott Solberg and Mindy Larson: There is tremendous synergy between out-of-school time advocates who want to provide academic credit based on skills and competencies and the ILP process. The ILP becomes a method for storing these credentials and skills or “badges” as they are now being called. With a system in place to identify and verify one’s competencies, it would then be possible to use the ILP to support credit-recovery models as well.

The issue of pursuing credentials in order to increase one’s employability and ability to enter desired post-secondary education programs falls under the category “career planning and management.”  Unfortunately, most states have not adopted a complete ILP curriculum that would move beyond self-exploration and career exploration activities to dive more into these other domains. We identify them in our ILP How To Guide and they certainly involve a wide range of skill areas. States need to begin moving more in this direction and, once they do, the full potential of ILPs as a method for optimizing youth development can be realized.

Question: What are some examples of evidence-based interventions in relation to ILPs?

Sabrina Moore: STAR Academies, Jobs for America’s Graduates, APEX Learning, and the Early or Middle College models are some of the evidence-based programs/strategies used in some of South Carolina’s high schools to address the needs of students identified at risk of dropping out and/or not graduating on time.

Misti Ruthven: We know if students see a relevancy to their middle and high school education decisions that their outcomes improve. In a recent study we commissioned on ICAPs, students with a stronger sense of their vocational identity were nearly 1 ½ times more likely to be on track with academic credits in core subject areas. ILPs assist in establishing this relevancy through exploring possibilities of career and college exploration, especially, in relation to navigating the college landscape. Specifically, many first generation students and their families need assistance in the college process regarding next steps. The ILP/ICAP facilitates this discussion.

Especially, regarding evidence around college-going rates and FAFSA, the ILP facilitates this process. The U.S. Department of Education cites that 90% of students who complete a FAFSA during the spring of their senior year in high school enroll in college within 12 months. We’re not suggesting that if a student does nothing, but complete a FAFSA that he/she is ready for college. However, this data point is an indicator of an understanding of the college process and next steps in this process after high school.

Scott Solberg and Mindy Larson: This is an area of need that we discuss in our Policy Brief, Using Individualized Learning Plans to Produce College and Career Ready High School Graduates. We’re hoping the federal government will begin to address this by supporting rigorous research to identify evidence based strategies and determine the impact of ILPs on various student outcomes. To date, there have been no controlled studies on the impact of ILPs. The ILP How To Guide describes some of the promising practices that educators, families, and students report as making a difference. These include student-led parent-teacher conferences and assigning ILP activities to specific courses (e.g. engaging students in the ILP two times per week as a part of an advisory or home room period). Now we need more controlled studies to determine whether their perceptions are correct that there is reduction in student’s dropping out, students engaging in a more rigorous course sequence, and an increase in students with disabilities choosing a regular education diploma.

The previous posts in this series are available on the Ready for Success blog.

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

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