The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, in collaboration with the Council of State Governments and National Conference of State Legislatures, released a report titled Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities, describing a range of related policy initiatives in place by states. The report encourages states to invest more in career development using personalized career and education plans known as individualized learning plans (ILPs). Research supporting the recommendations was drawn from the work of the IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth and its partner, Boston University School of Education Professor V. Scott Solberg.
“The purpose of an ILP is to help the student identify their career and life goals,” says Solberg. “Students with disabilities who receive special education services have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and they have to start building an IEP transition plan around age 14. The challenge is that the IEP is a federally mandated process that occurs once a year. By participating in an ILP process offered to all students that occurs throughout the year, students with disabilities have increased opportunities for career development to inform their IEP transition plan.”
The Work Matters report calls attention to a NCWD/Youth’s guide, Designing Statewide Career Development Strategies and Programs.
Though the implementation of ILPs is not federally mandated, the Work Matters report states that 44 states now either mandate or encourage their use in middle and high school.
“When you see it done well, it’s amazing, and it’s transformative,” says Solberg. “Getting schools to do it well is where the challenge is. So that’s what we’re focusing on now is the quality of ILP implementation.”