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Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall 2016- ACP Updates

“Tracking” into Career Readiness & Development

As the DPI ACP Team ramps up efforts in pre-implementation year to prepare more districts to understand the messaging and promise of an ACP approach, we sometimes encounter a question that reveals the concerns of some educators…
Isn’t this just “tracking”?

“Tracking,” as an education practice, began in the early 1900′s.  By the 1930s, it had evolved into different types of high school curriculum- college-prep, vocational (e.g., plumbing, metal work, electrical, auto), trade-oriented (e.g., accounting, secretarial), and general. Students were tracked into these courses based largely on IQ, but sometimes other factors such as race and skin color. “Children of immigrants, and children who came from farms rather than cities, were often assumed to be inferior in cognitive ability and treated accordingly.1” 

In the 1960-70s education critics set a goal “to restore equity to students, erasing the lines that divided them by social class and race.”1 Unfortunately, in the years since, this goal translated into preparing (or “tracking”) every student for four university.  During the same timeframe, students who were disengaged in the university prep “track,” were often placed into vocational education classes, which were considered easier or less rigorous.

Concurrently, the economy and world of work that students were launched into changed.  Skills required to obtain life-sustaining wages now required a higher level of academic and technical skills not gained in less rigorous vocational education classes.  This prompted the federal government to act and pass the Carl. D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (aka Perkins) to improve the quality of technical education in the U.S.  Reauthorized several times, Perkins provides for increasing the rigor of these, now called Career & Technical Education (CTE), courses linking technical skills to academic content2. Furthermore, university remediation, retention, and graduation rates indicated too many students were entering into traditional university programs unprepared to persist and complete degrees.

The unintended result of our efforts to provide equitable access is that the experience of “school” for students, and even some of their parents, dismissed or devalued all other postsecondary routes as less prestigious, despite changes prompted by Perkins.  In a recent Wisconsin DPI survey, respondents noted the need for a cultural shift away from the perception that a four-year college degree is the ONLY path to a fulfilling career to the promotion of the idea that alternative routes can also be rewarding and desirable.  However, it was noted that challenges from local school boards and parents make this culture shift a slow proposition.  ACP, is intended to open up these conversations and elevate ALL postsecondary routes as desirable!  Because if we don’t, our students suffer, as they state things like, “My friend is going to UW-__, but I’m just going to __Tech College.” 

We hear a number of assumptions as ACP is implemented.  We believe the following, and hope you will join us to message these points:
·     ACP is NOT tracking into only one route after high school.
o  We should not be asking our kids, “where are going to college?” as if that is the only purpose of K12 education.  We should be asking our kids, “what do you want to do after high school?”
o   Life after high school should open possibilities that best fit with a student’s personal goals:  Goals for transitions, Goals for career, Goals for life.
·     ACP is NOT career declaration OR tracking into only one sector such as Manufacturing, Health Care, & IT:  The ACP process should showcase in demand job opportunities BUT does not drive people into them! 
o   Our kids don’t know what they don’t know until they experience it. SO- let’s give them lots of opportunities to try on different roles.
·     ACP is PERSONAL:  It must grounded in personal choice and interest and skill identification.
o   Our kids must be given multiple opportunities to first learn about themselves AND reflect on those revelations AND be allowed to fail and make changes as they age to adulthood. 
·     ACP is INFORMED:   A student who wants to be a professional athlete must be made aware that the field is very competitive and small, with little longevity, as well as the training and skill required to be professional.
o   “Informed Decision Making” should never be used to dash dreams.  Asking good questions, directing to resources, and allowing for continual exploration, cross connections to related fields, and constant re-evaluation of goals is foundational.
o   We want the student who doesn’t see any college in the future, to consider it; and we want the student who has plans to go to UW-Madison to make sure it is the right fit for their goals.

We are not tracking, we are assisting students to go down whatever pathway they choose, with perseverance and grit needed to navigate life learning requirements and challenges as they occur…

Right Time, Right Fit, No Dead Ends

1 “Let’s Go Back to Grouping Students by Ability.”  The Atlantic.  March 26, 2013.
2 Perkins Act:  AdvanceCTE.  Accessed October 7, 2016.

ACP Networking and Sharing
NEW:  Monthly Technical Assistance Webinars:  Third Thursdays at 3

NEW:  OPEN Google+ ACP Document Sharing SITE!
  • Come to this site to download or upload samples of ACP related resources and materials.
  • If you download and use- Please CITE the school district source.
  • If you upload- Please save to appropriate folder with School District NAME listed first.
  • We will also be migrating to WISELearn over the next year.

ACP Leadership Conference

Career Cruising Software Deployment in Wisconsin

Get Started Implementing ACP
  1. Assess readiness for ACP implementation using Reflective Questioning 
  2. Sign up and follow ACP with the DPI ACP social media tools (Email List  scroll to bottom, TwitterWisDPI_ACP, G+ Community
  3. Assess current ACP service and delivery gaps using the Self-Assessment Rubrics.  *Focus first on the components of Infrastructure before addressing actual services and opportunities offered directly to students.
  4. Prepare and plan for ACP implementation (Leadership & Culture, Policy & Planning, Professional Development, Individualized ACP Support, Family Engagement, Community Partnerships, Access for All)
    • Planning Template
    • PI 26 webpage, GuidanceHOW will you prepare your district’s students to be College AND Career Ready?
    • NOTE:  Just completing a PI26 plan, without moving towards a more systematic delivery of connected academics and career development, will NOT result in fulfilling the promise or intent of ACP.  This is a long-term effort that requires all staff buy-in, administrative support, and thoughtful & ongoing planning and evaluation aligned to the district’s overall strategic plan to prepare college and career-ready students.
  5. Communicate your efforts!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer 2016- ACP Updates

Happy Summer!

It is that time of year when teachers can finally take a deep breath from all the incredible demands they face daily.  Over summer, most will continue to work, catch up on personal and professional projects, or finally take that family vacation!  As a former classroom teacher I remember all too well those 50-80 hour weeks filled with lesson planning, assessing, grading, coaching, managing, reflecting, reviewing and improving.  And, it always seemed as if each new year would bring all new requirements! It's enough to send even the most dedicated teacher into a tailspin!  

In my role, I try to continue to be very aware of your daily demands.  For some, ACP continues to be viewed as a school counselor's job responsibility.  While they certainly have the most experience in this area, ACP delivery is more than "just career development."  As such, I am working with our team over the summer to help school staff understand that all of the work they do daily contributes not just to academic (college) readiness, but also to career readiness and 21st century mindsets.  You are doing many aspects of ACP now!  

DPI has just recently launched the "I'm Ready" campaign.  These testimonials highlight how school staff partner to support individual student goals, recognizing personal strengths and interests, as these students plan and transition to their futures.  When it comes right down to it:  ACP is about relationships to identify needs, connect to strengths and support EVERY student on this journey.  

So while ACP may seem, at the surface, to add to your workload; I hope, instead, you will see your role, including the multiple daily conversations you have had with students, as an important adult, that supports everyone of your students, to make more informed choices about their futures.  Isn't that why we went into education in the first place?   


  • For the DPI ACP Team, the beginning of this summer marks the end of the ACP Pilot Year with our 25 public school districts.  Our final Pilot District meeting is on June 16 in Madison. We will honor progress made, as well as assist the districts to plan for next steps.
  • All 25 districts have greatly impacted our work this past year and our continuing approach to ACP implementation support.  I want to specifically thank all of the hard working district ACP Coordinators and district leadership that allowed these pilot districts to assist DPI to better understand and prepare for the needs of schools, staff, and students.
  • Based on feedback from our Pilot districts, and along with our partners at Wisconsin Center on Educational Research (WCER) and the UW-Center on Education and Work (CEW), we will be sharing out an overview ACP Guidance document and Lessons for ACP staff professional development by fall.  These materials will be useful as school districts ready themselves for the 2016-17 ACP pre-implementation year.
  • Career Cruising has announced the training dates for this summer and fall!  There will be one opportunity in summer with a repeat session in fall for school building trainers only.  This training is intended to provide designated school building trainers with the information necessary to train school staff back home on using Career Cruising with students.  Please note the training and registrations will be managed through each CESA.  See the training information page HERE.  As schools continue to onboard to the Career Cruising software platform, we remind you to refer to the FAQs for questions.
  • We are excited to announce our Keynote Speaker for the  ACP Leadership Conference will be Richard Gerver.  A dynamic, and internationally known educational speaker! Recommended by Sir Ken Robinson, he will set the tone for an exciting conference that will focus on leading, networking, and sharing sample practice presentations in the breakout sessions.  We are also reaching out to build a Superintendent/District Leadership Panel, to speak about ACP Leadership in their districts, following the Keynote Speaker.
  • Call for Proposals- The 2016 ACP Leadership Conference will be held December 6-7, 2016 at Monona Terrace in Madison.  The theme this year is “ACP:  Equipping Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Opportunities.”  Please consider presenting at this year’s conference!  You do not have to be an expert, or claim to have ACP all figured out.  If you have a sample practice that demonstrates applications in your district, in your building, or with students on any of the ACP Components, we hope you will propose a session.  To do so- Click on the ACP Conference Session Proposal Form.  
  • The "Career Cruising in Wisconsin" ACP webpage provides a resource to learn more about the software and to connect to tutorials, webinars, and the in-person software training.  Please see this page to contact Career Cruising to get 'onboarded' to the state software prior to September 1, 2016.  See page at: 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Academic & Career Planning- Spring 2016 Updates

It's Spring in Wisconsin!

Which means we have snow on the ground somewhere...

Well, at least we are used to it here, and we know, if we give it a couple days, the weather will change again.  Hmmm...that kinda reminds me of a middle school student's mind!  Give it a few days, and it will change again.

I recently shared a great infographic that our CTE Asst. Director, Sara Baird, found (see below).  I share it again now because of a couple recent stories.  One was a news story in the Green Bay area which reported on a meeting of employers hearing more about ACP and the potential for employer partnerships.  The news story took the tact, "How Young is Too Young."  While certainly a valid question for persons just hearing about ACP, our pilot partner, Marci Waldron Kuhn, from Mishicot handled the question beautifully.  She explained "it is more about self-awareness and how does that turn into a career."  In addition, Julie Mosher, Oshkosh, thoughtfully explained the ACP model, referencing exploration and choices as a student moves from middle school to high school to post-secondary.

In another story, a personal one, I received a phone call from a DPI colleague regarding her daughter's recent middle school activity using the school's software system to do some career exploration.  The mom explained that her daughter came home in tears because the software matching her responses on an interest survey listed 'taxidermy' as number one.  While this girl LOVES animals, she responded as if the top listing was hand-picked specifically for her.

Which brings me back to the mind of a middle schooler.  There are very few us actually doing what we thought we would be doing when we were in 7th grade.  I know - I ask at every presentation I do.  However, this does remind me that, as educators, workforce professionals, and employers, we have to be very CLEAR about our messages to kids, parents, and the community.  There should be NO pressure to choose one and only one job- but explore a CLUSTER or MORE of jobs.

As I explained to my DPI colleague, the software will list about 10-20 related occupations to explore, not just one. Moreover, in the context of QUALITY ACP service delivery, this middle school activity will be the first of many that she will do throughout middle school and high school.  She should explore, take academic and CTE classes, connect to opportunities to do 'animal' job exploration, and learn more about her strengths, weaknesses, values, and interests to help her and her family make more informed decisions as they progress.  Infusing academic concepts with real world application and career readiness skills serves to prepare ALL students more thoughtfully for the choices they have to make after high school graduation,  As my colleague, Gregg Curtis, states, it is career EXPLORATION, not career DECLARATION.        

ACP Updates


  • The contract with the state-selected software system, Career Cruising, is close to finalization.  Once completed, our ACP web pages will include direct links to information regarding deployment to the system.
  • Career Cruising has been onboarding our pilot school districts, and will be onboarding other interested school districts, in an ongoing basis.  However, even after onboarding and account creation, training to use the software with staff and students will not occur until later this summer and fall.  Please stay informed by signing up for our ACP email list (scroll to the bottom).  


  • The contract is finalized for the 2016 ACP Leadership Conference!  Save the Date for December 6-7, 2016, at Monona Terrace in Madison offering a capacity of up to 2000.  We will again offer team rates and the Agenda outline is provided on the web page.  We will be posting a Call for Proposals soon.
  • The theme of this year's conference is, ACP:  Equipping Today's Students for Tomorrow's Opportunities.  We will be looking for speakers from different schools willing to share their work and experiences delivering integrated services and/or components of ACP.  


  • Our partners at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at UW-Madison will be learning about the ACP implementation experiences of the pilot schools in the next few months.  They will also be reviewing the materials and activities developed for the pilot schools and helping us to revise them into a format we can post on our web pages.
  • The first set of activities will be posted on the Implementation web page and will provide ACP Teams with tools to inform and cultivate support for ACP with school staff.  
  • We also continue to thank our CESA Partners for providing regional opportunities to engage in these same activities! 



  • CALLING ALL school districts!  Please send me the web page link to YOUR posted ACP annual plan!  We'd like to share examples, even if the plan only states the district will work on a comprehensive plan in the next year.  Send to

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ACP Updates

Fall-Winter 2015-16

It has been super busy in the last few months for the DPI ACP Workgroup, which is why this ACP Blog is way overdue AND filled with updates.  Please always know that we try to keep our Main webpages at 
updated with any "breaking" news.

On that note...Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and any other Holidays I have missed!

Premiering TODAY
Our NEW ACP Video



  • The revised PI26 Administrative Rule, 'Education for Employment' now includes the requirements for Academic and Career Planning (ACP).  The rule was published by the legislature on December 1, 2015 at  A subsequent memo was sent from DPI to all District Administrators on January 8, 2016, available on the ACP website under "News".  In the next few months, we will be working with our pilots to refine the Implementation webpage and guidance information to assist districts to prepare and plan for ACP implementation in Fall 2017.  
  • Many of the components that are to be required of ACP, were also already included as part of a district's overall Education for Employment plan required under PI26.  It is for that reason that PI26 was revised, rather than a new rule created just for ACP.
  • The rule is essentially effective now, with ACP service delivery to begin in Fall 2017.  This means that the district plan to address Career Awareness, Career Exploration, Career Development and Management, and ACP Implementation planning should be published as they become available on local district websites.  Rather than viewing this as another burden, the PI26 revision, with ACP components, could be used to determine several college and career readiness goals, in order to align several uniform goals and measures.  These plans should be incorporated as integral pieces of the district's strategic plan and considered living documents to be reviewed and updated annually.   
Professional Development
  • The first 2015 ACP Conference reached the capacity of our venue in 15 days this past fall!  We were thrilled to see the excitement and interest surrounding the vision of ACP.  The 2015 conference in Stevens Point focused on preparing a strong foundation for ACP planning and readiness. If you were not able to attend or if you missed a session or handout, ALL materials from the conference, including the Opening, Keynote Speakers, and Pilot School Panel videos, are available on our website.   
  • Planning has already begun for the 2016 ACP Conference!  We are close to finalizing the date, likely December 6-7, and location, in Madison at Monona Terrace.  We will ensure capacity of up to 2000 AND have taken the feedback from 2015 to heart. We will again offer a team cost break to encourage ACP teams from districts to attend. The conference theme will focus on actual Implementation of ACP in schools.  Stay Tuned- we will be posting a "Call for Proposals" in order to feature school districts and other partners implementing a variety of ACP services! 
  • Our EVENTS webpage has been updated to include the variety of regional CESA ACP workshops occurring around the state, in addition to the various presentations team members are providing.  If you cannot attend in your region, your may want to consider attending in another.  Of course, make sure to say hi if you attend any of our presentation sessions at conferences around the state!
  • I also want to thank all of the partners who worked with Pam Hilleshiem-Setz to develop the lesson activities for our professional development modules.  While not quite ready to roll out, we will be refining them and getting the 1st set on our webpages by summer.
Web Materials/Guidance
  • Our web pages, communications materials, and planning tools are constantly under revision during this pilot preparation year.  Please check back again as you prepare communications and information locally to ensure that you have the most current flyers and documents.

  • Recent WEBPAGE Updates include-

    • Background-  Link to a copy of the Published Rule
    • Implementation-  Self Assessment Rubric revisions (dated 11/11/2015)
    • Events- New events added
    • Pilot- ACP Partners list (under Pilot)
    • Communications- New Testimonial Videos added.  Just click on the Playlist Link in the video box (3 stacked lines in upper left corner) to see the list of testimonials.  More will be coming soon! 
Pilot Year 
  • Our 25 pilot school districts have been actively planning and meeting to implement their goals for this year.  In addition, they have been providing INVALUABLE feedback to us as we plan for 2016-17!  Through their commitment, beginning with the August full day in service, through regular webinar teleconference calls, and as presenters at the ACP Conference, we have relied on their experiences to help shape our work at DPI.
  • We are currently in the process of building up a Sample Practices repository which will be used to assist other districts as they begin their ACP journeys!
  • I also want thank our UW System Administration Office partner, Denny Roark, for contacting and connecting with each of the UW partners!  As districts ready for comprehensive college and career readiness planning through ACP, our Technical College and UW partners stand ready as crucial members to include on YOUR ACP team!  See Partner List here.  
Communication & Collaboration
  • Many of you may have recently noticed the updated version of the State Superintendent's Agenda 2017.  The Agenda 2017 vision means that Wisconsin Graduates ARE College AND Career Ready academically prepared and socially and emotionally competent possessing the knowledge, skill, and habits to succeed after high school!  With College and Career Readiness as the goal, we have worked diligently with other teams around the agency to note that ACP can be used as the vehicle to get students there through:
    • Personalizing the student journey built on self-awareness and goal setting that
    • Connects to a student's strengths and interests through 
    • Meaningful and supportive adult relationships to assist with the 
    • Ability to adapt to opportunities and challenges!

  • We are also planning for our 2016 Spring ACP Advisory Council Meeting. Our multi-stakeholder member representation, through this Advisory Council, continues to allow us opportunities to ensure that different groups are aware of the importance of ACP, as well as to provide us on feedback and direction.


  • In order to ensure that ACP technical assistance and professional development are moving districts forward for preparing college and career ready students and that students are moving forward more prepared for their futures in an uncertain global economy, we will be partnering with educational experts to review technical assistance, professional development, tools, materials and implementation practices over the upcoming years to assess effectiveness of these resources.
  • The first phase will focus on ACP preparation and planning in the pilot schools.  The second phase will assess changes made based on the results of phase one, and determine best practices for support for ACP implementation state-wide.  Post-implementation, we will examine program outcomes for ACP service delivery. 

Software Tool

  • In a state procurement process, managed by the Department of Administration, an Evaluation Committee met this past summer to review the responses and demonstrations from potential vendors of an ACP software solution.  Career Cruising was sent a letter of intent to award a contract on October 12, 2015.  
  • School Districts may choose to use Career Cruising under the state contract OR contract with any other platform they choose that provides "Access to an academic and career planning software tool that allows pupils to engage in career exploration and career planning and preparation." Contract Negotiations are now underway to secure a contract.  Please see our web page for further questions at Software System
  • Once the contract is finalized, we will inform all stakeholders of the roll out plan for the ACP Software System.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What STEM means to me


ACP Connections

     As a new classroom science teacher, I had never heard of the "STEM" buzzword. However, that was in 2000-2006.  After I began working in career development curriculum, I learned more about career and technical education and the career clusters and pathways framework that is referenced as part of federal Perkins funding.  This framework is intended to provide a context for learning the skills specific to a career, and provide a structure for organizing or restructuring curriculum offerings and focusing coursework with a common theme.  One of the 16 career cluster is called STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  STEM, as a career cluster, is "planning, managing and providing scientific research and professional and technical services (e.g., physical science, social science, engineering) including laboratory and testing services, and research and development services."  Then something wonderful happened:  Teachers saw "STEM" and their respective disciplines of science, math and technology merge.   

     By combining STEM as a career cluster of skills, to STEM, as an integrated curricular approach, provided an opportunity to blend academics and career and technical education as applied for problem solving for real-world lessons.  

It soon became clear that STEM could NOT be envisioned if it was still thought of as: 

  • A new name for traditional teaching or math and science, 
  • Intent on making everyone a scientist or engineer
  • Just for the brainiacs 
  • More science & math content from the book
  • Changing the math word problems

So, what STEM means to me is exactly what the promise of ACP includes- a way to connect academics, career interests, and technological skills in an applied way to problem solve real world issues!

Furthermore, STEM can be transformative, especially for those who may not see themselves as scientists and engineers!  According to Dr. Evers, in 2010:
"I want to emphasize that STEM education includes not only studies in each of the independent STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), BUT also opportunities to integrate and apply STEM learning across many disciplines.  If STEM education is to make an impact on our economy, we need to link it to the personal aspirations of  ALL students–whether artists or scientists or entrepreneurs–and we need to make it powerful enough to transform communities and improve our quality of life.”

ACP Updates

  • ACP Fall Leadership Conference
The ACP Fall Leadership Pre-Conference Workshop and Conference are almost full!  We are tremendously pleased with the interest and excitement building around ACP. BUT, unfortunately, all of the state rate rooms are booked up.  As of today, Monday still has 145 openings; Tuesday only has 12 openings left.

If you are not able to attend in November, please note that additional training and technical assistance statewide will be available next summer and throughout the implementation year. Furthermore, the CESAs have designated at least one contact to actively participate along with the ACP pilot school in the ACP training and support provided this year.  Please know that your CESA representative partners may be willing to help you navigate the planning process.  In addition, our Implementation Tools can be used now to prepare and plan for ACP Implementation.  Conference Information: 

  • ACP Pilot Schools
The ACP pilot schools have been busy meeting and planning to finalize their goals for ACP implementation in pilot year 2015-16.  Our first set of webinar meetings are scheduled for the week of October 5-9, 2015.  As we receive feedback from the activities and lessons developed, we plan to revise the lessons and post them for all on the webpages.  Stay Tuned!
  • ACP Lessons Development
Pam Hilleshiem-Setz, our Lesson Developer, has been busy working with various expert partners to help develop the educational staff lessons and activities to prepare to implement ACP.  These lessons are still in development or are undergoing review.  As mentioned above, once they are tried out in the pilot schools, we will revise them and post them for all to access and use.  
  • ACP Software Procurement
The vendor demonstrations were completed in August.  Once the Department of Administration has all of the final scores that resulted from the demonstrations, they will compile the scoring totals.  Once the committee reviews the final Evaluation Committee Report, we can then share the vendor selection.  This could take anywhere from 1 to 2 months. 

Furthermore, there will be some time required to secure the contract and to ‘ramp up’ to roll out the software to the pilot schools and others.  While DPI cannot direct you one or another, it may be best to continue with your current career development software contract for another year so you do not derail any ACP implementation processes implemented so far. 

  • Upcoming ACP Presentations:
2015 WASCD Fall Conference (Appleton, WI)
October 1, 2015 
1:00 - 2:15 pm - To Assessing Career Readiness and Beyond

October 20, 2015
1:30-2:45 pm; Repeats at 3:15-4:30 pm-  ACP and PTP Intersection: Making the Connection
January 20-22, 2016 (Exact Date TBD)
Academic and Career Planning- Educating for the Future

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