While efforts to guide students toward their goals have traditionally focused on academics, personalized success plans can provide a more holistic roadmap that takes into account their after-school life to provide support at all levels, eSchool News reports.
Districts interested in embracing this sort of approach should start by creating an organizational structure that includes both school officials and community support groups, identifying community groups that can assist students in specific areas and then designating a point person to be in charge of implementing the plans.
If digital tools are used to manage the plans, districts must vet them well and make sure there is strong data security in place. Embedding equity into these plans is also a key component to their success.
Personalized success plans apply a holistic approach that recognizes a large portion of learning takes place during after-school hours. Including a student’s home environment in the plan is a critical component of success.
A district in Salem, Massachussetts, successfully implemented such a strategy after being flagged as low-achieving and not improving, just a few steps away from being taken over by the state. In order to make a monumental change, city leaders partnered with Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab and Boston College’s City Connects to bring in-school and out-of-school program coordinators together to implement changes.
The result was to develop personalized plans for each child that capitalize on their strengths and address their weaknesses. After identifying each child’s needs, the plans brought in community partners to find equitable solutions to each problem that arose. Not only does this strategy bring out the best in each child, it also helps fill equity gaps that exist.
The idea behind the Education Redesign Lab challenges the notion that if someone works hard enough, they can do anything they want. According to the philosophy behind the Education Redesign Lab, students’ access to opportunity is limited by their parents’ financial situation. Sometimes, a student needs a little help if they are going to be successful.
This concept piggybacks on other plan-based strategies to help students get to where they want to go in life. There are programs individualized learning plans, for example, that address access and equity issues for students with disabilities.
Other states are also helping students devise plans that can set them on the path to success. For example, Vermont features a personalized learning plan for success that gives students an opportunity to tout their strengths and core principals, as well as set goals. This plan is student-driven, but it is assessed by a school official who can identify issues at home that may be holding a student back.