Individualized Learning Plans Webinar Questions: Part 1 – The Role of Community Partners

On May 29, the American Youth Policy Forum, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center, and the Institute for Education Leadership, hosted a webinar titled, “The Use of Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) to Help Students to be College and Career Ready.” Presenters included Dr. Scott Solberg, Associate Dean for Research, Boston University; Mindy Larson, Senior Program Associate, Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership; Misti Ruthven, Postsecondary Education and Success Manager, Colorado Department of Education; and Dr. Sabrina Moore, Director, Student Intervention Services, South Carolina Department of Education.

During the webinar, presenters discussed the definition of an ILP, highlighted its benefits for all students, including students with disabilities, and shared examples where ILPs have been integrated into a comprehensive statewide approach to college and career readiness. There were a number of questions presenters were unable to address during the webinar due to time constraints.

This post is the first in a series of blogs addressing recurring questions that participants submitted following the webinar.

Question: There is a major role for partners outside of the school system in supporting ILPs. In what ways have others, such as the business community, community-based organizations, volunteers, and higher education been involved?

Sabrina Moore: In South Carolina, businesses support the Individualized Graduation Plan (IGP) process by offering opportunities for students to participate in job shadowing activities, internships, and other work-based learning activities. Community colleges and other higher education institutions work closely with schools to provide opportunities for students to earn dual credit for a number of academic and career-related courses. Students’ participation in work-based learning activities and their “dual credits” are documented on their IGPs.

Misti Ruthven: In Colorado, these organizations and partners are involved seamlessly. In many school districts, partners can request electronic access to a student’s ILP or Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP) in order to reflect conversations, activities and community involvement. In rural and urban areas of the state, these partners are a direct link for students to explore careers and college. Our state’s institutions of higher education are also widely represented in our state-sponsored ICAP tool at www.collegeincolorado.org

Scott Solberg and Mindy Larson: Community partners outside of schools can play an important role in supporting students’ ILP process. After school programs, employers and businesses, postsecondary education institutions, workforce development agencies, and other community-based organizations that work with youth on college and career readiness or school retention and dropout prevention are all natural partners for ILPs. Interestingly, given the newness of the ILP state policies, there was limited information at the time of our research project about how districts and schools are collaborating with entities outside of the school system on ILPs.

Kentucky is one state we’re aware has been developing strategies for community partner involvement in ILPs. Operation Preparation, a joint effort of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Department of Workforce Development, engages trained volunteer community advisors to meet one-on-one with 8th- and 10th-grade students for an advising session related to their ILP college and career goals and plans. The community advisors are recruited from businesses, government, colleges or universities, community service organizations, PTA, Workforce Investment Career Centers, and other segments of the community. Learn more at: http://education.ky.gov/educational/CCadv/op/Pages/default.aspx

Hopefully, as more community-based organizations and other community partners become aware of ILPs, they will be able to initiate new collaborations with school systems to support youth engagement in ILP activities.

Check back on Tuesday, June 25, when the presenters address questions related to curriculum, professional development and other strategies that are used to support the use of ILPs and how ILPs are implemented with special populations and in non-traditional school settings.

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

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