States continue to refine graduation requirements to meet the now widely accepted goal that all students be ready for college and the workplace when they graduate from high school. In almost half of the states, one strategy employed is the requirement that all students develop an individualized learning plan (ILP) prior to graduation. ILPs refer to both a document that is created and maintained as well as a process that helps students engage in the career development activities necessary for them to identify their own career goals. Individual planning is not a new idea. Since the 1970s, federal requirements for students with disabilities have included an individualized education program (IEP). The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), charged with the responsibility to find promising practices to improve the employment outcomes for people with disabilities, supported a multi-year study to assess whether quality ILPs improve the readiness of all students, including youth with disabilities, for post-school outcomes.
The ODEP study, launched in the 2008-09 school year and conducted by NCWD/Youth and its partners, the Center for Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Institute for Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, was the first longitudinal research and demonstration project designed to understand the effectiveness of ILPs. It examined ILPs in 14 (rural, urban and suburban) schools in four states (LA, NM, SC, and WA) and was built around core features included in the Guideposts for Success.
This summary includes findings from the first year of the study.