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Pre-Conference Session:“Personal Learning Plans for All Students as a Foundation for College & Career Readiness and Life Success ”Rebecca Dedmond,The George Washington UniversityDavid Militzer,California Department of EducationDan Blake,Sonoma County Office of EducationEducating for Careers ConferenceSacramento Convention CenterFebruary 13, 2012

A Perfect Storm:

Four Converging Megatrends

Great Recession




Of Jobs



Phil Jarvis, The National LifeWork Centre, Memramcook, New Brunswick

The Great Recession…

They estimate that today’s students will have10-14 jobs

…by the age of38.

The percentage of teens & young adults who have jobs…

is now at the lowest level since WWII.

Changing Demographics…

Key factors to consider:

Latino students now make up the majority of K-12 students in California

The racial/ethnic groups that are the least educated are the fastest growing.

National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

If current trends persist, the U.S. will experience a decline in educational attainment levels from one generation to the next for the first time in its history.

Upskilling of Jobs…

Job Market in 1960…

Percentage of jobs requiring a 4-year degree =20%

Percentage of jobs requiring a

2-year degree or certificate = 20%

Percentage of jobs requiring minimal on-the-job training =60%

Job Market Today…

Percentage of jobs requiring a 4-year degree =20%

Percentage of jobs requiring a

2-year degree or certificate = 65%

Percentage of jobs requiring minimal on-the-job training =15%

For over a century, the U.S. led the world in equipping its young people with the education they would need to succeed…

and the U.S. economy thrived

Some alarming statistical trends:

  • The U.S. has fallen from 1st place to 13th in high school graduation rates

  • The U.S. now ranks 12th in the percentage of 25-34 year-olds with an A.A. Degree or higher

However, the U.S. does lead the world in one important statistic:

The U.S. has the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world.

93% of middle school students say there is “no chance” they will drop out of high school

29% of Californians age 18-24 lack a high school diploma

Perhaps most importantly…

when surveyed, the majority of high school dropouts say they began to “disconnect” in middle school or earlier.

At a time when the need for career counseling is more critical than ever…

California’s counselor to student ratio is 814 to 1, ranking California last in the nation.

Unprepared Workforce…

According to a 2006 report…

70%of employers cite deficiencies among workers in the areas of professionalism, work ethic, & critical thinking

40%of employers say incoming employees are deficiently prepared even for entry-level jobs

What do you want to be when you grow up?

We’re asking the wrong question…

Most of us acquired a superficial and narrow knowledge base of occupations while we were growing up. Our occupational knowledge reflected what we knew about our family members’ jobs, the jobs of our neighbors, and the people we came in contact with in our community on a regular basis. This natural occurrence tends to severely limit the career options that students see for themselves. It may explain why so many children mention the jobs of firefighter, police officer, nurse, or teacher when asked what they want to be when they grow up. These jobs are familiar to them in their daily lives.(Colussy, 1998)

The reality is, we are currently preparing students for jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist…

in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

As a result of this “Perfect Storm,” teens and young adults are persistently disconnected from both education AND employment

What are the ramifications of this “perfect storm” on the way we approach career development in the 21st Century?

OLD: Choose a destination

What will you be when…?

NEW: Focus on the journey

Who are you now?

What are your special skills, abilities, talents, (assets)?

What will you do next (stepping stones)?

What competencies will you work on?

What does your future look & feel like?

These “megatrends” lead to an important conclusion:

A new approach to career awareness, exploration, and preparation beginning in middle school (or earlier) is a moral & economic imperative if we are to fulfill our responsibility to current and future generations.

Career Development ContinuumPreparing all Youth for Success in College, Career, and Life

Career Awareness

Learn about a wide variety of jobs and careers

Career Exploration

Explore, research, and plan for the future

Career Preparation

Gain education, training, and work experience



  • Classroom & School

  • Web Research

  • Guest Speakers

  • Career Interest Assessment

  • College & Career Fairs

  • Career Contextual Instruction

  • College Awareness

  • Classroom & School

  • Career Pathways, Courses, & Clubs

  • Integrated Curriculum

  • Classroom Simulations

  • Career Plan Development

  • Career-Focused Projects & Assignments

  • College Exploration

  • School & Workplace

  • Core Academic Preparation

  • Career Technical Courses & Programs

  • Career-Related Project-Based Learning

  • Career Plan Refinement

  • Work-Ready Certification/Soft Skills

  • Occupational Certifications

  • Job-Seeking Skills

  • Work Experience

  • Internships

  • College Preparation








  • Workplace

  • Industry Tours & Field Trips

  • Career & Job Fairs

  • Youth in the Workplace

  • Workplace

  • Job Shadowing

  • Career Mentoring

  • Community Service Projects

  • Informational Interviews

  • Postsecondary Options

  • Community College

  • 4-year College or University

  • Trade/Technical School

  • Military Service/National Service

  • Apprenticeship

  • Enter Workforce (full or part time)

  • Self-Employment/Entrepreneur

  • Families & Neighborhood

  • Adult Interaction

  • Role Model Observation

  • Families & Neighborhood

  • Risk Taking

  • Role Playing

  • Progression of Responsibility






Program Goals & Objectives

Expand knowledge of career options

Program Goals & Objectives

Expand knowledge of high school & post-secondary education/training options

Program Goals & Objectives

Increase perception of

post-secondary relevance

(stress the importance of

educational attainment)

Program Goals & Objectives

Increase understanding of career goals, interests, and aspirations

Program Goals & Objectives

Increase awareness of middle school staffs & parents regarding career development resources and educational options

Program Goals & Objectives

Increase the number of students who develop integrated academic/career development plans, including course sequences that are consistent with career pathway options

Charting a Course Through The Perfect Storm

Can Personalized Learning Plans Be A Compass?

David Militzer

Education Programs Consultant

California Department of Education

[email protected]

Uncharted Waters: What Is Happening in California?

*California’s CTE Standards set high bar for career and college planning but lack middle grades approach for all students

*Efforts to increase school counselors—AB 1802 lowers ratio from 954:1 to 395:1 (2002–09)

*SB 70—Middle grades career exploration funding, increased multiple pathways

*Financial cuts, crises, student-centered services being reduced—student/counselor ratio now over 800:1

*Unchartered waters—reform efforts, budget cuts, flexing of dedicated funding, increasing recognition of what’s working, and polarized debates aboutpurpose and goals of education

2010 -11

  • 88% of 277 high school principals surveyed report that budget cuts have stalled reform and professional development

  • 66% report reduced college access programs

  • 50% report cuts in counselors

  • 60% who report trying to develop engaging programs such as Multiple Pathways/ Linked Learning are suffering setbacks

  • “Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011,”IDEA Educational Access Report

2011- 2012

  • Approximately 70% of 1,000 K–12 principals report reductions in positions and/or hours of support staff (counselors, social workers, psychologists, etc. )

  • Preliminary data from 2012 IDEA Educational Access Report (Pre-publication)

Uncharted Waters

“Our kids are more on their own to succeed and navigate their way through school than they have ever, ever been.”

—California High School Principal, “Free Fall”

Where does this leave schools?

What as educators are we doing to address this?

Uncharted WatersSchool Counselors

  • Problems with funding—most states well above recommended 250:1 ratio, California is last in the nation

  • Problems with roles/responsibility—lack of clarity about mission/purpose

  • Problems with training—around 50% nationally feel ill prepared for their jobs

  • Do counselors have a role in K–12 education? If yes, what is it?

Uncharted WatersCareer and College Ready

  • 23 states and the District of Columbia have adopted policies for Individual Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) (aka Student Learning Plans, SLPs)

  • Growing evidence suggests that such plans reduce dropouts, engage gifted students, increase matriculation to postsecondary

  • Rennie Center Report on “Student Learning Plans: Supporting Every Student’s

  • Transition to College and Career”, June 2011

Uncharted Waters Career and College Ready

  • PLPs increasingly being used for developing and maintaining comprehensive career guidance programs

  • And expanding activities to connect students with workforce training

  • And fostering awareness of CTE programs and courses of study that focus on career development and postsecondary transitions

  • “Rennie Center Report on Student Learning Plans: Supporting Every Student’s Transition

  • to College and Career”, June 2011

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Purpose: To Develop CTE and Career Exploration in Grades 7 & 8 and…

  • Link CTE and Career Exploration

  • Integrate CTE and Core Academic Curricula

  • Develop linkages between middle grades and high school programs of study

  • Develop and implement Personal Learning Plans for all students

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Applicants

  • Total grant funds available$1.8 million

  • Number of applications107

  • Grant funds requested$14.8 million

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Grantees

  • Grants awarded13

  • Average grant amount$138, 461

  • Grant period12 months

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Middle Schools

  • Participating middle schools46

  • 8th grade students served7,121

  • Other students served8,085

  • Total students served15, 206

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Postsecondary, Business, & Community Partners

  • Community colleges16

  • Four-year institutions5

    • (UC/CSU/Private)

  • Business/community57

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Career Exploration:

  • Middle Grades Students Served

  • First semester3,723

  • Second semester (projected)9,437

  • Total (projected)13,160

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Career Technical Education:

  • High Schools & Pathways

  • Receiving high schools46

  • High school pathways186

  • Average number of CTE

    • Pathways per high school4

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Career Technical Education:

  • Middle Grades Students Served

  • First semester3,567

  • Second semester (projected)3,018

  • Total (projected)6,585

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Successes: Students

  • Increased motivation

  • Increased academic performance

  • Expression of clearer choices and selection of multiple pathways

  • Reduced discipline problems

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Successes: Schools

  • Increased rigor

  • Increased collaboration

  • Demonstrated need for expanded CTE at high school level

  • Waiting lists for career exploration and CTE middle grades classes

  • More talk about student futures

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Successes: District/County/Community

  • More middle schools want to participate

  • County-wide middle grades initiative

  • Youth tech center

  • New grad requirement: 2 CTE classes

  • Ties to local career opportunities

SB70 Middle Grades CTE &

Career Pathways Grant Program

  • Challenges

  • Changes in administration

  • Lateness of grant award

  • Career exploration component

  • Training new CTE teachers

  • Countywide communications

  • Comprehensive implementation

  • Reduction in counselors

From CDE “Study of Pupil Personnel Ratios, Services, and Programs” (July 2003)

“We are facing a crisis in pupil support services in California’s schools. Today’s students face increased challenges with decreased support.

Peer pressure, bullying at school, dysfunctional families, drug and tobacco use, growing teen suicide rates all contribute to student feelings of anxiety and depression and create barriers to learning. More than ever before, counseling and pupil support services play a critical role in the academic preparation and social development of our youth.”

From “A Handbook for Counselors”Published by the Association of Deans and Counselors in conjunction with the California Department of Education,1929

Data that were believed to clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of a school (guidance) counseling program included:

1. a reduction in course failings

2. reduction in drop out rates

3. reduction in absences/increases in attendance

4. reduction of discipline incidents

5. improvement in climate, and

6. strong college and career counseling.

Uncharted Waters

  • We do not lack good ideas

  • We do not even need to dig very deeply to see what works and what we could/should be doing but aren’t

  • And, we cannot go back in time.

  • So…………………...

Uncharted Waters

Isn’t it time to use a new compass?

Isn’t it time to chart a new course?

Uncharted WatersKey References and Sources

“Rennie Center Report on Student Learning Plans: Supporting Every Student’s Transition to College and Career,”(6/11)

“Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011,” IDEA Educational Access Report (3/11)

Personalized Learning Plans

What is the purpose of a PLP?

Each student will have a Personalized Plan for Progress, reviewed often to recognize individual strengths and, within reasonable parameters allow individual design for learning and progress

(adapted NASSP, Breaking Ranks, Recommendation 12, p. 84)

The Purpose

To help adolescents navigate their way through the world of adolescence, through meaningful educational & learning options, and into a satisfied & self-sufficient future

(Freshman Transition Initiative, Dedmond)

Freshman transition helps…

Students steer a successful course through the world of adolescence

Students prepare for successful entry into the world beyond high school

Freshman Transition Standards Lead Students to. . .

*Develop knowledge & skills needed to compete

*Become adaptive self-starters

*Raise social IQ

The Standards for Freshman Transition & the 10-Year Plan

*Help students plan for development of the broad skills required for success in a competitive global economy

*Give students opportunities to develop initiative and explore the changing workplace

*Help students develop social IQ through interaction with peers and members of the community

(Dedmond, 2008)

What are the Benefits of the PLP?

“…the difference in the high school experiences of students with plans for high school courses and career plans versus students without such counselor-assisted plans was so great thatproviding help with these plans must be offered at every school…”

(Orfield & Paul, 1994, p. 11)

What Information is Included in the PLP?

*Foundation begins in elementary school

*Continues with exploration throughout middle school

*Goal is for Individual Student Plans to become pathways or guides that use the past and present to anticipate and prepare for the future

(Gysbers, 2011, p. 86)

In today’s world of…





In a workplace that demands…

*problem solving*superior social intelligence *creativity *communication *entrepreneurship *cooperation*understanding*branding *caring about others *teamwork *shaping the outcomes of social situations*other…..

What is the format?

Speaker Contact Information

Rebecca Dedmond

The George Washington University

703-549-6935 / [email protected]

David Militzer

California Department of Education

[email protected]

Dan Blake

Sonoma County Office of Education

707-524-2780 / [email protected]

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