Individualized Learning Plan

What is an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP)?

An indivImage of a young man looking at a drawing of future goals including a house, job, and caridualized learning plan (ILP) is both a document and a process that students use – with support from school counselors, teachers, and parents – to define their career goals and postsecondary plans in order to inform the student’s decisions about their courses and activities throughout high school.

Many states have adopted policies that require all middle and/or high school students to develop and maintain an individualized learning plan in order to make schools more personalized and improve student outcomes.

What is a Quality ILP?

Based upon several years of research investigating the nature and use of ILPs in states across the U.S., the National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) and its partners have developed the following definition of quality ILPs:

  • A document consisting of: (a) course taking and post-secondary plans aligned to career goals; and (b) documentation of the range of college and career readiness skills he/she has developed.
  • A process that enhances the relevance of school and out-of-school learning opportunities, and provides the student access to career development opportunities that incorporate self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management skill building activities.

Research Findings

The ILP research studies by NCWD/Youth and its partners indicate that ILPs show promise as an effective strategy for delivering quality career development opportunities that improve several student outcomes. Students who were more engaged in ILP activities reported stronger goal setting skills, increased motivation to attend school, and increased academic self-efficacy which leads to better academic achievement, stress and health management, and readiness to engage in career decision-making. Teachers, school counselors, and family members highly value ILPs and believe that it helps students become more focused learners who complete more challenging coursework in order to reach their self-defined career and life goals.

Read the ILP Fact Sheet for more details.



Practices & Resources

How-to Guide Resources By Topic:

Career Exploration
Career Planning & Management


V. Scott Solberg, Ph.D, Associate Dean of Research from the Boston University School of Education and primary researcher for NCWD/Youth’s individualized learning plans (ILP) work was featured on The Mary & Melissa Show, a call-in advocacy talk show led by two mothers who discuss the issues parents face raising kids with disabilities. On the show, Dr. Solberg summarizes the findings and recommendations from a multi-year individualized learning plan research and demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Listen to the audio. (8.7 mb mp3)



About the Partners

IEL NCWD/Youth ODEP Boston University

  Center for Education & Work, U of Wisconsin/Milwaukee  

Need help viewing a document? View our document help page.

Have a comment or suggestion in regard to our site? Please send us your feedback.