In 2013, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law providing funds to implement academic and career planning statewide for all middle and high school students. From this legislation, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) created the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) process, which goes beyond requiring students to complete an individual learning plan (ILP) to help schools and school counselors use the ILPs to start conversations with students about their future career possibilities.
ACP begins with helping students explore their interests and strengths and then guides them through career exploration and planning, with regular check-ins throughout middle and high school to recalculate plans as needed. Wisconsin views the ACP as not just a document, but an ongoing process that uses the ILP document as a foundation for a meaningful career planning conversation. Their website describes the ACP as both:
“An ongoing process to actively engage students to:
- Develop an understanding of his or her self;
- Create a vision of his or her future;
- Develop individual goals; and
- Prepare a personal plan for achieving the vision and goals.
A product that documents and reflects students’:
- Coursework, learning and assessment results;
- Post-secondary plans aligned to career goals & financial reality; and
- A record of college and career readiness skills.”
Policy in Action
DPI first piloted the implementation and training process during the 2015-16 school year, and statewide implementation occurred during the 2017-18 school year. DPI has also collected baseline data to begin an evaluation of student outcomes and the effect the ACP is having. This evaluation includes examinations of the activities used, as well as implementation practices at the local level.
Districts have been given flexibility in how they implement ACP, but DPI provides regular guidance and training, as well as numerous support materials. These materials include implementation guides and communications resources.