Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Muge Celik, whose oldest child is a sixth-grader, was excited about the prospects of his Individual Learning Plan. “It’s deep and detailed,” she said after the parents workshop.
As students look toward planning for their future, they sometimes don’t know where to begin despite the wealth of information at their fingertips. That’s where the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) comes in.
The ILP, which the state of Kentucky requires for all students in grades 6-12, is an online tool that helps them make connections between classes and career goals.
“It is a living, breathing document, so as their interests change, they can very easily see how that might impact their educational path,” said James Hardin, coordinator of Career and Technical Education for Fayette County Public Schools.
Hardin leads sessions for parents to show how simple it is for their children to navigate the ILP, which is integrated with the Internet-based Career Cruising guidance system.
Families also quickly realize the value of these tools, which can match career clusters to students’ skills and interests, track their community service and work experience, document extracurricular activities and hobbies, build resumes, tailor an education plan, explore college options and describe various jobs. The live data even provides salary details and projects whether careers are on the rise or decline, which might affect a student’s choice.
“The breadth and depth of what this program can do is amazing,” said Liza Holland, a mother of two who attended the Jan. 18 workshop sponsored by the 16th District PTA.
“I’m looking for scholarships, and it makes it so much easier,” added Ada Cocanougher, whose older son is a high school senior. “It’s a time-saver that really eases the stress for me.”
Moms and dads filled the computer lab at host William Wells Brown Elementary, where Hardin walked them through some of the main sections in a hands-on workshop.
“Students think they know what they want to do in life, but they don’t know how to get there. This tool lets them see up front what it’s going to take,” he said.
Fayette County Public Schools has used the ILP for six years; previously, students filled out an individual graduation plan on paper. Now they complete the annual requirements online, usually during an elective class, and school counselors make sure everyone stays on track.
Amanda Mullins, the business teacher and FBLA adviser at Henry Clay High School, said the process dovetails smoothly with her curriculum, particularly in her senior co-op class.
“When I found out what the ILP and Career Cruising website was, it’s absolutely perfect for this,” she said, noting how readily students can research colleges and compare majors, costs and other factors. “There are tabs set up and it’s all contained in this one, clear place. It’s relevant, it’s accurate, it’s easy – without having to search through everything on the Internet.”
One of her students, senior Bradley Baker, also attested to the ILP’s usefulness through the years.
“It really started me looking ahead into what I want to go into – business management,” he said. “It’s really been a big help with what I want to do and what classes I need in high school.”
Bradley would encourage younger students to take the ILP seriously and to put some thought into their answers for the interest surveys and skill inventories.
“They need to do it honestly, not just to get it done, because it really does help with what you want to do in the future.”