staff only


Academic and Career Planning (ACP) is a process and product by which students grades 6-12—in collaboration with key school staff, families, and community members— chart, refine, and progress towards their personalized pathways by exploring who they are and what they want to do with their lives, and making progress towards short and long-term goals. Through the ACP, students take ownership of their learning and graduate with the skills, knowledge, dispositions, and sense of self to be college, career, and community ready.


Academic and Career Planning as a Process:

Academic and Career Planning is a process. Components that support students in completing the process include: 1) participating in contact time to explore self; careers; personal planning and self-management; and education/training, 2) developing a close and consistent relationship with an adult and peers; 2) Setting goals and tracking goal progress through a ACP Plan and Portfolio, 3) participating in Student-Led Conferencing, and 4) Participating in Real-World Learning Experiences inside and outside of the school building.



  1. We believe it is imperative that students graduate with a post-secondary vision and plan.
  2. We believe all families have assets. All students and families should have early and frequent access to information, supports, and advising that will prepare students and families to collectively navigate college and career decisions.
  3. We believe that all students, when provided with the resources and support, can have a clear sense of direction and develop the skills to advocate for themselves and advocate for what they need to become college, career, and community ready.
  4. We believe all students should have equitable access to a high quality rigorous, relevant curriculum and flexible scheduling enabling students to personalize their pathway to college, career, and community readiness.
  5. We believe high quality career and personal counseling is integral for students to actively plan for their future.
  6. We believe that not all learning takes place within the walls of a classroom and we support learning opportunities occurring within our community, businesses, and post-secondary institutions.
  7. We believe all students need ongoing positive relationships with caring adults in order to become college, career, and community ready and we support the systems, structures, and professional learning needed to foster and develop these relationships.
  8. We believe in high quality coherent curriculum and instruction that integrates content knowledge, career awareness, and life skills.


According to research*, well-implemented Academic and Career Planning

  1. Improves high school graduation rates and post-high school success
  2. Improves students’ academic self-efficacy, career search self-efficacy, goal-setting, and motivation/engagement
  3. Improves school-family communication

WHEN: Teams of MMSD teachers, counselors, principals, and central office staff will design, develop, implement and improve Academic and Career Planning for students grades 6-12 over the next few years. Specifically:

  • 2014-2015: Implement 8th Grade ACP Foundations, Progress towards long-term ACP Vision
  • 2015-2016: Implement some ACP services 9th Grade, Progress towards long-term ACP Vision
  • 2016-2017: Implement some ACP services 7th-10th Grade,  Progress towards long-term ACP Vision
  • 2017-2018: Implement some ACP services 6th - 12th Grade, Progress towards long-term ACP Vision


Is the ACP a state mandate?

Yes, Academic and Career Planning is a state mandate. By 2017-2018, the Department of Public Instruction mandates all students 6-12 should receive ACP services. ACPs are also a district priority, as a foundational piece of Strategic Framework Priority 2 Personalized Pathways. MMSD is committed to implementing an ACP process and product that 1) results in maximum student outcomes, 2) is implemented in strong collaboration with schools, and 3) reflects the wants and needs of the Madison community. 

For more information, please contact Julia Steege-Reimann at

 *“Using Individual Learning Plans to Produce College and Career Ready High School Graduates.” (February 2013). Policy Brief: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.” 
*“Promoting Quality Individualized Learning Plans, ‘A How To Guide.’ (2012) Solberg, V.S., Wills, J., & Osman, D. Washington, D.C.: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership.
*“Academic and Career Plans—A Collaborative Foundation for Student Success.” Center for Education and Work, UW-Madison (2013)
*“Advancing Academic and Career Plans: Findings and Recommendations of the Academic and Career Plan Subgroup of the Governor’s Council on College and Workforce Readiness.” (September 2012)