Communication Identify the gap or problem. Know requirements.

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Analysis & Synthesis Interests? Assessed Aptitude? Assessed Skills? Built Your Plan? Taking the Right High School Classes?

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Valuing Made Post-Graduation Plans? Picked Out Possible Career Options? Narrowed Down School Options?

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Execution Set Career and Life Goals? Applied for College and Financial Aid? Learned to Navigate a Job Search?

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Communication Knowing I made a good choice. The facts speak for themselves. Feel good about your decision.

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Personal Learning Plans

A personal learning plan (or PLP) is developed by students—typically in collaboration with teachers, counselors, and parents—as a way to help them achieve short- and long-term learning goals, most commonly at the middle school and high school levels. Personal learning plans are generally based on the belief that students will be more motivated to learn, will achieve more in school, and will feel a stronger sense of ownership over their education if they decide what they want to learn, how they are going to learn it, and why they need learn it to achieve their personal goals.

While personal learning plans may take a wide variety of forms from school to school, they tend to share many common features. For example, when developing their plans, students may be asked to do any or all of the following:

  • Think about and describe their personal life aspirations, particularly their collegiate and career goals.
  • Self-assess their individual learning strengths and weaknesses, or reflect on what they have academically achieved, excelled at, or struggled with in the past.
  • Identify specific learning gaps or skill deficiencies that should be addressed in their education, or specific knowledge, skills, and character traits they would like to acquire.
  • List or describe their personal interests, passions, pursuits, and hobbies, and identify ways to integrate those interests into their education.
  • Chart a personal educational program that will allow them to achieve their educational and aspirational goals while also fulfilling school requirements, such as particular learning standards or credit and course requirements for graduation.
  • Document major learning accomplishments or milestones.

The general goal of a personal learning plan is to bring greater coherence, focus, and purpose to the decisions students make about their education. For this reason, plans may also include learning experiences that occur outside of the school, such as internships, volunteer opportunities, and summer programs students want to pursue or books they would like to read.

Personal learning plans may help engage parents in the planning process and in substantive discussions with their children about their life goals and educational interests, while also helping teachers learn more about their students and their particular interests and learning needs. Personal learning plans are commonly revisited and modified annually to reflect changes in student learning needs, interests, and aspirations.

There are many ways to define Personal Learning Plans. This particular definition was modified from The Glossary of Education Reform's definition.

PLP Administrative Rules

According to administrative rule 24:43:11:01, “All students in grades 9 through 12 must have a personal learning plan. The personal learning plan must document a minimum of 22 units of credit.”

Admin rule 24:43:01:01 (the definition rule) helps explain the purpose of a PLP, “ ‘Personal learning plan,’ a plan based on a student's skills and interests that identifies the specific coursework a student needs to reach the student's academic and career goals.”

Note: The South Dakota Department of Education does not require students’ personal learning plans to be in a specific template. Each individual school district has local control over what their students personal learning plans will look like and what they will contain. The only requirement by administrative rule is that students’ PLPs document a minimum of 22 units of credit. Ideally, students should be relating the courses they are planning to take in High school to their academic and career goals for life after high school.

Example PLPs

Click image below to download the SD PLP Template.

SD PLP Template

Click the image below for SD student examples. 

SD PLP Examples

Career Decision Making Guide

Whether you are choosing a major, searching for a job, or applying to grad schools, the career decision making process can help you develop and implement a plan for the future.

Clarkson University's Career Center describes it best. They state, "career decision-making is a complex and lifelong process. Most career change statistics indicate that the average worker will change careers five to seven times in their lifetime. In today’s fluid and rapidly changing workplace those statistics, in all probability, will increase over time.

The best career decisions are informed career decisions. Being informed means entering into a process of self-assessment (looking at yourself) and career exploration (researching careers) to find the best match.

Many career professionals view career decision-making as similar to putting together pieces of a puzzle to form a clear picture of what those pieces represent. Many also agree that the primary puzzle pieces in the career process are your interests, personality, values and skills.

Each piece needs to be explored carefully and thoroughly on its own, and then looked at in terms of its interrelationship with the other pieces in forming a picture that is clear and understandable – a picture of “who you are” in terms of your career aspirations."

South Dakota's Career Decision Making Guide is based on the CASVE cycle. Follow the steps in the career decision making guide above to complete your SDMyLife personal learning plan.

The South Dakota Department of Education's career decision making resources were modified from Flordia State University's Career Center resources.