By Emily Loney
What do you want to do after high school? Attend college? Complete vocational training? Students across Wisconsin will soon have the opportunity to consider their plans and pathways through a focused Academic Career Planning (ACP) process. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) envisions ACP as a student-driven process in which students in middle school through high school have the opportunity to engage in career exploration, planning, and preparation.
ACP came about as a result of legislation passed in 2013, which appropriated $1.1 million for DPI to support implementation of academic and career planning across the state. The legislation requires that every district provide academic and career planning services to Wisconsin students in grades 6–12 beginning in the 2017–18 school year.
Staff from the Midwest Comprehensive Center (MWCC) supported DPI throughout the development and rollout of ACP, from initial research to pilot support and facilitation. MWCC support included examining all 50 states’ academic and career planning rules and legislation, supporting the ACP Task Force in developing ACP professional development competencies, and drafting logic models and an evaluation framework. More recently, MWCC staff have supported development of a webinar system for sharing information and materials among districts for implementing academic and career planning.
Nara Nayar, a technical assistance consultant with MWCC, has been involved in this work since 2012. She noted that a unique component of the ACP project has been the collaboration across many divisions within DPI. Nayar explained that there has been lots of cross-divisional buy-in within DPI. In addition, there is a high level of support among stakeholders. School districts see the value of ACP and have welcomed it with enthusiasm.
Experts from MWCC have been able to give feedback at several points of the process of developing the ACP, including in the development of the administrative rule, the ACP pilot, and guidance materials. For Nayar, this project has been a valuable opportunity for MWCC to provide “just-in-time” assistance to a state. “It was exciting to see the ACP pilot happening,” she explained. “Our work on the ACP project began four years ago, and it’s been great to see how the work has evolved over time.”