Study: Implementation of Individualized Learning Plans Varies Across US High Schools


About 72 percent of public high school students are required to have a graduation, career, or education plan, according to findings released this month by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This figure supports data collected by NACAC as part of its 2015 study of individualized learning plans (ILPs), which indicated that all 50 states had in place at least one initiative for promoting college and career planning among high school students.

In fact, 29 states plus the District of Columbia mandate the development of ILPs in secondary schools, but the ways in which these plans are implemented vary greatly.

The NCES data show that approximately 43 percent of public high school students are asked to create their own plan, while 34 percent choose a plan offered by their school. About 5 percent are assigned a specific ILP.

Although a significant percentage of students are asked to develop or choose an ILP, less than half of these students then actually meet with a school staff member to review it. This statistic is troubling because ILPs are most effective when a student’s progress is regularly tracked and evaluated.

Ultimately, developing a plan of action is only the first step in helping students on their path toward postsecondary education. Schools must do more to monitor the effectiveness of their ILPs and ensure these plans have a positive impact on students.

Learn more about ILPs.

Tara Nicola is a NACAC research associate. She can be reached at