From NCWD-Youth: “Families play an important role in helping their youth become college and career ready. Based on a number of research studies, literature reviews, and program evaluations, one can conclude that active family engagement supports the positive academic, career and life outcomes for youth with and without disabilities. Families’ aspirations and expectations have been shown to directly affect students’ aspirations and expectations of themselves and their actual achievements. High parental expectations for student success and achievement have been found to be the most significant influence on high school seniors’ achievement, including completion of high school credits needed for graduation. Included among the positive outcomes linked to family involvement are improved achievement test results, decreased risk of dropping out, improved attendance, improved student behavior, higher grades, higher grade point average, greater commitment to schoolwork, and improved attitude toward school. Further, studies have shown that family involvement is linked to higher rates of college enrollment.
Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) are a relatively new strategy being used by schools in a number of states to enable students to document their course taking and post-secondary plans and ensure these plans are aligned to their career goals. ILPs are also used to document the college and career readiness skills that the student has developed, and are more generally understood as a career development strategy that enables youth to develop self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management skills. As a result of engaging in these processes, ILPs are believed to result in youth understanding the relevance of how their school and out-of-school learning opportunities prepare them to pursue post-secondary degree training and degree programs as well as enter desired careers and occupations. Family engagement is a critical part to the success of ILPs.
This brief discusses families’ perceptions of whether and how they were engaged in schools’ implementation of ILPs, and describes suggestions from families of youth with and without disabilities about actions schools can take to improve family engagement in the ILP process. The information was derived from a web-based review of relevant literature as well as focus groups and surveys involving 1,400 parents of youth with and without disabilities and 526 school personnel in ten schools across four states as part of a larger five year study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The overall purpose of this larger study was to examine whether ILPs were a promising college and career readiness practice for all youth and whether and how youth with disabilities are participating in these efforts.”