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ICAP Fact Sheet 2021-22

Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP)


  • ICAP is an integrated, student-driven process and product.
  • ICAP is a multi-year process that intentionally guides students and families in the exploration of career, academic and postsecondary opportunities. With the support of adults, students develop the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and skills to create their own meaningful and powerful pathways to Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR)
  • ICAP is Meaningful Career Conversations.


Meaningful Career Conversations

When students engage in meaningful career conversations, they begin to understand how their unique aptitudes, skills, and talents influence the decision-making process for life-long learning.  The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) collaborated with the American School Counselors’ Association (ASCA) and the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) to develop resources for caring adults who engage with students:


Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR)

ICAP is the foundation for Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR). Learners of all ages:

  • build an understanding of the labor market landscape
  • explore, develop, and demonstrate the mindsets, knowledge, skills, and abilities - Essential Skills - necessary for career success
  • learn about and prepare for in-demand and meaningful career pathways

Students who engage in the ICAP process:

  • are more motivated to attend school and stay engaged
  • own their learning and connect the relevance of education to future aspirations
  • have individual, meaningful career conversations, invite exploration, and promote discussion
  • know how to fail, reflect, and succeed
  • can articulate their strengths and skills and apply knowledge about how their actions today connect with their goals
  • make secondary and postsecondary course plans to pursue career and life goals


Source:  Promoting Quality Individualized Learning Plans Throughout the Life Span. Institute for Educational Leadership, Boston University



"In high school, I was able to figure out what I excelled in and what I didn't. I knew that creativity was one of my strengths, and my teachers helped me get experience. They want me to succeed and to continue to bring new things to the community so that our town continues to thrive."


Essential Skills

Essential Skills are core skills that students need to prepare for the workforce or educational opportunities beyond high school. They were identified and described by hundreds of education, community and business leaders in the spring of 2016, and they are an integral part of the Colorado Talent Pipeline Report.    Colorado graduates have the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge (Colorado Academic Standards) that can be applied in an interdependent, interdisciplinary way, and leveraged in a variety of situations both locally and globally.

Colorado graduates are:

  • Communicators:  Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, Data Literacy, Interpersonal Communication
  • Problem Solvers:  Critical Thinking and Analysis, Collaborations & Teamwork, Creativity & Innovation, Adaptability & Flexibility
  • Community Members:  Civic Engagement, Global & Cultural Awareness, Social Awareness
  • Empowered Individuals:  Self-Awareness, Self Management, Perseverance & Resilience, Self Advocacy & Initiative, Career Awareness


Practitioners’ Guide:  The PWR Playbook

In October 2020, CDE launched a How-To-Guide for ICAP called the PWR Playbook, designed by and for practitioners.  It contains essential guidance, promising practices, stories, resources and tools - PWR Practices - that support the implementation of a high-quality Individual Career and Academic Planning (ICAP) process for students and learners as they build toward Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR). 


"I am the father of two grown sons, representing all of our parents…I want to encourage you to have discussions with young people, around their passions, their interests, what they see themselves doing after high school. Those can be some of the most rewarding discussions."

         - Kevin Aten, Superintendent, Bayfield Schools


ICAP Regional Training

ICAP Facilitators work with neighboring school and district teams to answer questions about PWR initiatives - including ICAP - and they facilitate the culture of Meaningful Career Conversations among all staff with all students.

ICAP Facilitators will help:

  • Foster creative thinking to enhance your ICAP process
  • Teach processes for all staff to facilitate meaningful career conversations with students
  • Collaborate with programs across the school/district/region
  • Train additional regional representatives for implementation sustainability
  • Design and facilitate PWR/ICAP Trainings in your region
  • Teach and Navigate the ICAP toolkit
  • Message and foster buy-in, enthusiasm and relevance for secondary initiatives
  • Explore, share, refine and replicate promising practices

Find the ICAP Facilitator nearest you




Where can I learn more?