By Susan Riddell
Neal Tindle, guidance counselor and technology teacher at Frederick Fraize High School (Cloverport Independent), likes to ask seniors what they are researching on their iPads when he passes them in the library or hallways.
“Often it’s a search for scholarship money for college,” Tindle said. “That typically makes me smile.”
Tindle said students browsing online planning their futures is a good reflection of Frederick Fraize’s emphasis on the Individual Learning Plan (ILP).
“We enjoy the ILP experience, and our students enjoy it, too,” Tindle said. “I’m glad its (technology has) been continually funded throughout these years, and I certainly hope that it continues to be for many, many more years.”
This marks the first year that a graduating class in Kentucky will have had access to the ILP from 6th grade through graduation.
“It’s a wonderful milestone,” said Sharon Johnston, program consultant for Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Next-Generation Learners.
“We’re very excited to add a new component to the ILP this spring. It is called Ability Profiler and is an optional assessment for students age 16 and older.
The Ability Profiler aids students in identifying their strengths and how these strength match up with certain careers.
Johnston also said that the ILP now has a more visually-friendly look, similar to Facebook.
While KDE would like to see even more students and parents access the ILP on a regular basis; several schools across the state are doing their part.
Frederick Fraize Middle reported 98 percent parent participation in the ILP, meaning 91 of 93 parents logged on their child’s ILP account. Frederick Fraize High has 97 percent parent usage.
“Our parents enjoy the ILP experience,” Tindle said. “They have always supported out efforts with it.”
Tindle teaches a Career Options class at Frederick Fraize High, and so far this school year students have been incorporating relevant sections of the ILP and Career Cruising into corresponding lessons. Career Cruising is an Internet-based career exploration and planning tool students use to explore college and career options and develop a career plan.
A recent lesson involved career clusters.
“The textbook was thorough in identifying and describing career clusters,” Tindle said. “However, the high school students get a much better view of specifications of these careers (with the ILP). There are so many extensions of any lesson that a teacher wants to explore.”
The ILP also is blended into business courses and a student career leadership class as well as regular guidance counseling sessions outside the classroom.
Tindle said Cloverport Independent has had great success with the ILP with middle school students eager to explore college and career options.
“They are typically surprised by initial Career Matchmaker results and enjoy exploring those specific career results,” he said. “The high school students are often amazed at some of the career choices or college choices they had made when they were younger.”
Students use the Career Matchmaker to take an inventory of their interests. Those interests are then linked to possible careers. Like Frederick Fraize High, West Point Elementary/Middle School (West Point Independent) had 97 percent parent participation in the ILP a year ago.
Betty Conover, who worked with students in grades K-8 for two years prior to becoming a 5th grade teacher this year at West Point Elementary, said parental review is a student graduation requirement for her district.
“During the time I worked with students on their ILP, I gained so much insight into the students and learned different ways of helping them to develop goals and create future plans for themselves, which for many was a foreign concept at first,” Conover said. “I found this program to be an invaluable tool for the students that could provide them with an amazing roadmap if they chose to apply themselves and do what was necessary.”
The first students Conover worked with on ILPs are now juniors. Although she is unable to assess the direct impact this program has had on these students, she has seen a majority of them more focused since they were introduced to the ILP.
“I do know that I observed students who had no goals, vision or direction discover infinite possibilities by using the ILPs,” she said.
The only school in Kentucky to report that 100 percent of its parents logged on to student ILPs last year was Livingston County Middle School. The school had 204 parents represented.
Doris Cothron, curriculum specialist for Livingston County Middle, said the school used a variety of methods to encourage parent participation in the ILP, ranging from letters and e-mails to writing competitions and phone calls. A list of parents who logged in to the ILP was posted in the school hallway until all parents had logged on. This year, Livingston County school district is hosting monthly parent academies, and ILPs are almost always on the agenda, Cothron said.
To encourage student use, all 8th graders had to complete an informative writing piece about the ILP, and 7th-grade students wrote pieces based on information from their ILPs. All students are required to carry student agendas that have a hard copy of their ILP information readily available.
Cothron said that in her three years as the middle school curriculum specialist she has “learned what a massive tool and treasure the ILP is,” she said. “I remember how I used to try to keep up with my own personal records as I looked ahead to filling out college applications.
“I had a file filed away in a drawer in my bedroom,” Cothron added. “I think of what a source of information and storage the ILP would have been for me in those days. It is a world of information at the fingertips of a student planning for the future now. What a resource.”
Sharon Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org, (502) 564-2106, ext. 4517
Neal Tindle, email@example.com, (270) 788-3388
Betty Conover, firstname.lastname@example.org, (502) 922-4797
Doris Cothron, email@example.com, (270) 988-3263