Practice - Vermont PLP Process


The Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Personalized Learning Plan Work Group have developed a series of resources to help schools consider ways in which they can plan for and implement Personalized Learning Plans. These resources will enable educators to work with their community members, parents, educators, and students to create a process and a product that considers the assets of the school and community while remaining focused on the unique qualities that each student brings to the learning process.

This page outlines how a school develops, initiates, and monitors Personalized Learning Plans, identifying the steps that a school might take to build a comprehensive system for full implementation of PLPS. The rationale for each step and associated Guiding Questions for Discussion are designed to stimulate conversations and engage faculty and staff in the varied aspects of planning for a thoughtful approach to Personalized Learning Plans. The final format of the PLP is a local decision that needs to be based on the local context; these steps, questions, and resources are provided to enhance the work underway by Vermont educators. Finally, we have included a host of resources in the form of articles, research, guides, and models to help illustrate the value of PLPs toward academic achievement, college and career readiness, and student engagement.

Step 1: Establish a school-wide PLP committee


Because of the nature and scope of the work to be done, a representative group of school-based faculty members, administrators and students should be formed and be responsible for designing the building-based implementation plan that is aligned with the district plan. This committee needs to be created prior to engaging in this work to ensure support for this effort from those who will implement these strategies.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. What knowledge and skills do committee members need to be successful?
  2. What other successful initiatives could inform our school's PLP work?
  3. How will decisions be made? What is the decision-making authority of the committee?
  4. How will our school's curriculum, instruction, and assessment change as a result of students being able to pursue selected pathways and design personalized learning plans to graduate?

Step 2: Identify/adopt a conceptual framework with faculty


It is vital to the process that educators in the school develop, determine, and ultimately support the general PLP conceptual framework. The conceptual framework does not include specific components that will be designed later.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will this work advance student learning?
  2. What are the terms, common language, and conceptual understandings that we need to agree on and define for all?
  3. What common misunderstandings will need to be addressed?
  4. What resources does the faculty need to support the framework?

Step 3: Build the faculty's knowledge base regarding PLPs


Successful implementation of Personalized Learning Plans depends on faculty and administrators understanding the importance of a shift in the learning process that broadens options for students based on their individual goals, diverse interests and learning styles and their involvement in the design and support structures.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will the school/district ensure that there will be time for discussions around the various facets of the PLP process, to include but not be limited to identifying pathway options and resources, how pathways will align with standards, and PLP design and processes?
  2. How will the PLP committee or district administration assess the faculty's comprehension and commitment to PLPs?
  3. What opportunities will be made available to faculty to see PLP models in other schools? How will samples and information available on the Internet be used to support a professional review process and discussion?

Step 4: Engage the faculty and students in the design of the PLP


Teachers play a key role in working with students to develop, implement, review, and adjust their plans. In many instances, they will be involved in the assessment of students' knowledge and skills as well as the academic standards embedded in students' pathway choices. Having the faculty play a critical role in the design process of the Personalized Learning Plan may help when the school is prepared to launch its communication plan and when implementing PLPs.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will a school document progress and achievement in meeting the goals laid out in a student's PLP?
  2. How consistent are students' experiences across classes in the same grade or content area? To what extent are the expectations for academic performance and demonstration of learning consistent across pathway options?
  3. How does the Personalized Learning Plan template provide opportunity for students to communicate their goals and interests?
  4. How does the Personalized Learning Plan template provide opportunity for students to establish or select a pathway toward graduation?

Step 5: Identify criteria for acceptable learning pathways


In order to craft a Personalized Learning Plan, students will want to know the criteria defining acceptable pathways. Establishing the criteria is crucial in order to enable students to create self-designed pathways outside of those created by faculty. An essential component of this work will entail a careful review of Act 77 and an engagement with the full faculty around the concept of multiple and flexible pathways.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will the committee engage faculty in the development of pathways?
  2. What school practices, including pathways, already align with students being able to choose personalized learning pathways, and what practices will need to change?
  3. What processes will be used with faculty to ensure appropriate levels of rigor, personalization and equity within each pathway?
  4. How will the structure of the school change based on the identification of pathways?

Step 6: Establish a process for students, teachers, and parents to monitor PLPs


Personalized Learning Plans are most helpful when students are involved in ongoing engagement with their PLPs—not as a "fill in the blanks and move on" exercise. Students will need support to continually revisit and refine their PLPs to ensure deep and ongoing learning.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will the plan encourage consistent and targeted monitoring by faculty, students, and parents?
  2. How will the school ensure that the process around the development and monitoring of a student's plan be consistently employed for all students, including those with 504s, IEPs, and other accommodations?
  3. How will a school ensure equity of experience in relation to the monitoring and advising of a PLP?
  4. How will the school be responsive to suggestions and requests as the model is initially being implemented?

Step 7: Establish a support structure for students engaged in the PLP process


Creating and engaging in PLPs is a learned skill for students, not something that they can initially tackle on their own. The school needs to create various support structures to ensure that students are able to create their PLPs, take advantage of various learning pathways, and attain both the academic standards expected from every student and their own personal goals.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How will the school ensure adequate structural support for sustainable implementation and monitoring of Personalized Learning Plans?
  2. How will the parents' role evolve with the implementation of PLPs?
  3. How will the support structures enhance communication and collaboration with community agencies/partners?
  4. How will the district ensure timely support for internal needs associated with PLPs?

Step 8: Develop a system for teachers and students to track and report achievement of student learning


Schools will want to provide a data collection platform for teachers, students, and parents that will insure easy access to a student's records at any time. The platform should allow for the student to be one of the individuals who enters information (data) about his/her own learning. It is vital that those supporting students in the learning process have access to the student's progress at any given time.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. How can we best use technology to enhance our PLP system?
  2. What do parents, students and teachers want to know in regard to the outcomes of the PLP?
  3. What professional development and support will teachers need to maintain and use the reporting system?
  4. Depending upon how we use technology, how will we support families who are not technology rich?
  5. What do you want to communicate through a Personalized Learning Plan?

Step 9: Develop a process for evaluating the PLP program on an annual basis


It is important for schools to establish an evaluation process to guide continuous improvement of the PLP program. Understanding the impact the program is having on students' abilities to establish personal and learning goals, engage in learning experiences that are relevant to achieving their career, college and academic goals, and improve instructional quality will help stakeholders make necessary adjustments and refinements to the program.

Guiding Questions for Discussion

  1. What evidence will need to be collected annually to determine the level of success and areas in need of adjustment?
  2. How will the findings of an evaluative review impact the ongoing work around Personalized Learning Plans within the school?

Resources to support the steps associated with Practice

Establishing shared leadership

Global Best Practices, Dimension 3.3
Developed by the Great Schools Partnership for the New England Secondary Schools Consortium, Global Best Practices is an internationally benchmarked self-assessment tool for secondary schools. Dimension 2.3 addresses shared leadership, pages 44-45.

School Climate and Shared Leadership
The National School Climate Center sponsored a brief written by William Hughes and Terry Pickeral in February 2013 outlining the elements of a shared leadership team and the effects of such on school climate.

Strategies for Creating Effective School Leadership Teams
LeeAnn Sulzberger prepared the following document in January 2011. The "Considerations Packet" provides a clear guide for choosing leadership team members and clarifying the meeting structure, roles, and responsibilities.

Guide to Collaborative Culture and Shared Leadership
The National Turning Points Center, a part of the Center for Collaborative Education, printed this "Guide to Collaborative Culture and Shared Leadership" in January 2001.

Building faculty knowledge around the purpose of personalized learning

Act 77
Act 77, Vermont legislation discussing Personalized Learning Plans and Multiple and Flexible Pathways.

Global Best Practices, Dimension 1.2
Developed by the Great Schools Partnership for the New England Secondary Schools Consortium, Global Best Practices is an internationally benchmarked self-assessment tool for secondary schools. Dimension 2.3 personalization and relevance, pages 10-11.

ILP Framework
Individual Learning Plans Framework from the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Department of Education, August 2010.

Breaking Ranks II Executive Summary
Breaking Ranks II provides strategies, tools, and a conceptual framework for engaging the larger school community – staff, students, parents, and community members – to work together to create an academically rigorous, personalized learning environment.

The Myth of Average
This Tedx Sonoma County Talk by Todd Rose helps clarify why personalizing the learning experience and process best meets the needs of our students.

Changing Systems to Personalize Learning
"Changing Systems to Personalize Learning" was written by John Clarke and published through the Education Alliance at Brown University in 2003. This was written to help teams consider ways in which they can adapt their instructional practice and structure to increase equity, rigor, and personalization.

Individualized Learning Plans Defined
The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth conducted federally funded research to document the process, product, and effect of Individual Learning Plans at the policy and practice levels. This attachment provides a definition of Individualized Learning Plans and briefly clarifies when and how to use one.

Personalized Learning Plan Models and Guides

Pittsfield Middle High School Student Packet

Winooski's iLab
Winooski's iLab, as described by Partnership for Change, is a proficiency-based personalized classroom.

Montpelier High School Personal Learning Plan Teacher Guide, 1998
This pdf provides a view into the introduction of PLPs, the structure, roles, responsibilities and practices of Personalized Learning Plans at Montpelier High School.

New Jersey Department of Education presentation on Implementing Personal Learning Plans; May 3, 2012

New Jersey Personalized Student Learning Plans Resource Guide, Spring 2009

Promoting Quality Individualized Learning Plans, A "How To" Guide focused on the high school years
Sponsored by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth and written by V. Scott Solberg, PhD, Boston University; Joan Wills and David S. Osman, Institute for Educational Leadership, February 2013.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Personalized Learning by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey; Learning and Leading With Technology, 2013

Advisory Programs

Changing Systems to Personalize Learning: The Power of Advisories
This PDF was sponsored by the Education Alliance at Brown University (2003) and was written by Debbie Osofsky, Gregg Sinner, Denise Wolk.

Providence Public High Schools, Individual Learning Plans Program Guide
Developed by Hope High School, Providence, Rhode Island; March 2007.

Ninth Grade Counts: Strengthening the Transition to High School
A Great Schools Partnership Resource, written by Stephen E. Abbott and Pamela D. Fisher, Summer 2012.

Big Picture Learning Advisory Structure

Flexible pathways

Global Best Practices Dimension 2.3
Developed by the Great Schools Partnership for the New England Secondary Schools Consortium, Global Best Practices is an internationally benchmarked self-assessment tool for secondary schools. Dimension 2.3 addresses multiple pathways, pages 28-29.

Success is the Only Option: Designing Competency-Based Pathways for Next Generation Learning
Published by Competency Works, this report features findings from interviews with educational leaders and site visits to schools that have created successful proficiency-based pathways for students.

NESSC Briefing #6: What are Personalized Learning Pathways?

NESSC Briefing #7: What are Real World Learning Experiences? And How Do We Assess Them?

Sample Alternate structures for learning

Y.E.S. Year End Studies Program, Rutland High School

CVU Graduation Challenge
An annual opportunity for seniors to design a personalized learning experience that holds value to them.

U-32 Branching Out Pilot Program in Vermont
One way to consider how to engage youth in learning in and outside of the classroom walls.

Page Last Updated on June 28, 2016