Student learning plans (SLPs) represent an emerging practice in how public schools across the country are supporting the development of students' college and career readiness skills. Learning plans are student-driven planning and monitoring tools that provide opportunities to identify postsecondary goals, explore college and career options and develop the skills necessary to be autonomous, self-regulated learners. Currently, 23 states plus the District of Columbia require that students develop learning plans, and Massachusetts state policymakers are considering whether all middle and high school students should be required to develop learning plans. Legislation is currently pending that calls for the Executive Office of Education to convene an advisory group to investigate and study a development and implementation process for six-year career planning to be coordinated by licensed school guidance counselors for all students in grades 6 to 12.
The purpose of the policy brief Student Learning Plans: Supporting Every Student's Transition to College and Career is to provide policymakers in Massachusetts with a better understanding of what student learning plans are as well as how and to what extent their use is mandated in other states. The brief is organized into five major sections: an overview of SLPs and the rationale for their use in public K-12 education; an overview of the research on the effectiveness of SLPs on improving a variety of student outcomes, including engagement, responsibility, motivation, long-term postsecondary college and career planning; current state trends in mandating SLPs for all students, including the structure and implementation of SLPs, their connection to other high school reform initiatives and their alignment with state and federal career awareness and workforce development initiatives; promising implementation strategies; and, considerations for state policymakers.
Considerations for Massachusetts policymakers include: learn from states that are pioneers in the implementation of SLPs for all students; develop a comprehensive implementation plan; and, strengthen career counseling and career awareness activities in Massachusetts schools.