The Use of Individualized Learning Plans to Help Students to be College and Career Ready

The Use of Individualized Learning Plans to Help Students to be College and Career Ready
The Use of Individualized Learning Plans to Help Students to be College and Career Ready


Preparing for college and careers requires far more than simply mastering rigorous academic content. College and career exploration and planning play a critical role in engaging students through creating personalized learning opportunities and preparing them for life beyond school.  Individualized Learning Plans (ILP) are one tool that middle school and high school students can use to define their personal interests, goals, and course choices through postsecondary education and careers. Many states have adopted or are exploring policies that require the use of ILPs.

The American Youth Policy Forum, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at the American Institutes for Research, and the Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership co-hosted this webinar on the use of ILPs across the country. The Center for Workforce Development has conducted longitudinal research, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, to assess the effectiveness of ILPs, and it implemented a demonstration project to better understand their impact on post-school outcomes. Presenters summarized the research findings and discussed experiences implementing and scaling up the use of ILPs. They included Dr. Joe Harris, Director, College and Career Readiness and Success Center; Dr. Scott Solberg, Associate Dean for Research, Boston University; Mindy Larson, Senior Program Associate, Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership; Misti Ruthven, Postsecondary Education and Success Manager, Colorado Department of Education; and Dr. Sabrina Moore, Director, Student Intervention Services, South Carolina Department of Education.

Presenter Biographies

Joseph R. Harris, PhD, Managing Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research, has an extensive background in secondary school improvement, college and career readiness, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) reform as a practitioner, researcher and evaluator. He currently serves as Director of the College & Career Readiness & Success Center, a national technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to help regions and states promote knowledge development and dissemination and effective collaboration among CCRS stakeholders. From 2006 to 2012, he served as the Director of the National High School Center, also funded by USED, to promote college and career readiness, dropout prevention, and integrating special and general education instruction.

From 1994 to 2006, Dr. Harris served as project director for a series of major technical assistance contracts funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of the Systemic Initiatives, a multiyear NSF effort designed to foster STEM education reform in more than 100 state, rural, and urban school district projects. Dr. Harris also has led numerous K–12 initiatives to improve program operations and outcomes in areas such as differentiated teacher compensation, program evaluation, student assessment, strategic planning, education policy, program equity, minority student achievement, and public/private partnerships. For the first two decades of his career he was a public school teacher and administrator and, since then, has worked in a variety of public school settings. Dr. Harris holds a B.A. in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Florida, an M.A. in Secondary Education from the Catholic University of America, and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Mindy Larson is a senior program associate at the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Development (IEL/CWD) and project manager for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). NCWD/Youth is a national technical assistance center, supported by U. S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, that works to ensure that transition age youth are provided full access to high quality services in integrated settings to gain education, employment, and independent living. Larson’s work prior to joining IEL included managing a variety of national, state, and local youth employment and education initiatives at the District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, the National Summer Learning Association, and the National Youth Employment Coalition. Larson holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, Institute for Policy Studies.


Dr. Sabrina B. Moore is currently the Director of the Office of Student Intervention Services at the South Carolina Department of Education, where she oversees the implementation of the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), the South Carolina School Climate Initiative, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. Prior to joining the SCDE, Dr. Moore served as the Executive Dean of Student Services at Denmark Technical College in Denmark, SC. She received her graduate degrees from  Clemson University.


 Misti Ruthven currently manages the programs connecting K-12 with higher education for the Colorado Department of Education. Previously, she held the position of College Access Director for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Misti is considered a national subject matter expert on paying for college and helping unaccompanied homeless, foster youth and underserved student populations successfully transition to college. She has given national/regional workshops and seminars at NASFAA, RMASFAA, NACAC and NAEHCY on the topic. Her work has been highlighted in the Chicago Tribune and Inside Higher Education. She has also provided recommendations in these areas by request of the U.S. Department of Education.

Misti has been a part of the education community for more than 15 years, holding administrator and faculty positions at Colorado Mesa University and The Colorado School of Mines. While representing the State of Colorado for the Department of Higher Education, she provided consulting services for colleges and universities in 24 states, primarily in the Western U.S. The diversity of these colleges ranged from technical schools to top research universities.

With more than 700 public presentations and dozens of published articles in professional journals and trade magazines, she is also recognized for her work in program implementation, including:

  • Concurrent Enrollment
  • State & Federal Grants
  • Marketing & Branding
  • Strategy & Change Management
  • Community Partnerships

In 2010, Misti was recognized through a vote of her peers with the Cynthia Gales Award for her service to Colorado students and families. Misti holds a B.A. from Colorado Mesa University where she was valedictorian of her college graduating class and a M.S. from Colorado State University.


V. Scott Solberg, PhD is Associate Dean for Research at Boston University’s School of Education and Professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development.  Dr. Solberg is an active member in the Society for Vocational Psychology, a Section in Division 17 (Society for Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. He is also a member of International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, National Career Development Association and currently serves on the editorial boards of the Career Development Quarterly and the Journal of Latina/o Psychology.  Publications related to this work can be solicited directly from Dr. Solberg at  Online resources include webinars that showcase the research base underlying ILPs (, an ILP how to guide for schools (, and related resources from the National Collaborative for Workforce and Disability for Youth (


Recommended Resources

Colorado Resources:

NCDWY Resources



Watch this webinar on AYPF’s YouTube Channel»

Click here to view the Powerpoint Slide Deck from this Webinar»

Joe Harris


College and Career Readiness and Success Center

American Institutes for Research

1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20007


Mindy Larson

Senior Program Associate

Center for Workforce Development

Institute for Educational Leadership

4455 Connecticut Ave, NW Suite 310

Washington, DC 20008

202.822.8405 Ext. 169

Sabrina Moore, PhD,

Director – Student Intervention Services

South Carolina Department of Education

1429 Senate Street

Columbia, SC 29201


Misti Ruthven

Postsecondary Preparation & Success

Colorado Department of Education

201 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203



Scott Solberg

Associate Dean of Research

Boston University School of Education

Two Silber Way

Boston, MA 02215



The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.