What is an individualized learning plan or ILP? Depending on where you live, it could be a called a Next Step Plan, an Individual Graduation Plan, a High School and Beyond Plan, or another name. So what is it and why should you care?
The short answer is, an ILP is a document used by all students in school, typically starting in middle school, that describes the student’s secondary course plans, postsecondary goals, and the related college and career readiness skills he or she has developed. The term also refers to the process by which a student develops an understanding of how his/her courses and in-and out-of-school activities are helping him/her achieve self-defined post-school goals.
The ILP is not the same as the Individualized Education Program (IEP) that each student receiving Special Education services has but it benefits students with IEPs because it can support the development of students’ IEP transition plans and increase their access to quality career development opportunities throughout middle and high school.
To date, 35 states are using ILPs and many states have mandated them for all students. One such state is Kentucky where individualized learning plans are being used as a strategy to increase students’ college and career readiness. One of Kentucky’s goals is to increase the percentage of students who are college and career ready from 34 percent to 67 percent by 2015. ILPs are being used in what the Kentucky Department of Education are calling “Operation Preparation” in which every 8th and 10th grader meets one-on-one with a trained community volunteer adviser to ensure they are sufficiently prepared for future educational and career goals.
This Kentucky example is just one illustration of how ILPs can further career development goals for students with and without disabilities. You may be thinking that ILPs sound terrific but wondering how you can possibly include them in your work when your day is already so full and resources so limited. In Kentucky, there is an average of 450 students to each individual school counselor. The state overcomes this particular challenge by ensuring that ILPs are part of a cross-system endeavor, involving general and special educator teachers, school and state leadership, school counselors, families, and most importantly the student who drives the process by defining his or her own goals. Everyone shares in the work and the reward of ensuring college and career readiness for students!
To learn more about how states across the country are using ILPs, tune into our webinar on May 16 1:30-3:00pm ET. Presenters from NCWD/Youth will highlight key research findings and policy recommendations on the use of individualized learning plans while presenters from the Connecticut State Department of Education will share lessons on implementing ILPs statewide for all students.
- Learn more about the NCWD/Youth ILP Research & Demonstration Project
- ILP How-to Guide
- ILP Policy Brief
- More details about how Kentucky uses ILPs in the summary from the Capitol Hill Forum sponsored by The American Youth Policy Forum
By Dana Fink, Assistant Project Coordinator with the National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth at the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Developmen