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College and Career Readiness

College and Career Advising Professional Development Series

The Department, in partnership with MASCA (Massachusetts School Counselor Association), will be sponsoring a three-day workshop series Download PDF Document beginning in Fall 2018 designed to provide schools an opportunity to create a high quality college and career advising program in combination with a student-driven academic and career planning process called MyCAP (My Career and Academic Plan). This training is aligned with the MA definition of College and Career Readiness Download PDF Document and the MA Model for Comprehensive School Counseling 2.0 to better prepare students for success after high school. This workshop series will be offered in regional locations on three separate days throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Schools are invited to register small teams (4–5) of high school staff led by counselors but including teachers and administrators. Please stay tuned for updates on trainings to be offered in 2019-2020.

Massachusetts High Quality College and Career Pathways Initiative

In 2017, the Commonwealth launched a High Quality College and Career Pathways initiative to serve as an overarching strategy for significantly expanding student access to high-quality career pathways.

In addition to Chapter 74, there are two new types of pathways for this effort: Early College and Innovation. While more specific sets of characteristics define each pathway, both are anchored in the five guiding principles defined in the Massachusetts Early College Designation — Preliminary Outline of Key Elements: equitable access, guided academic pathways, enhanced student support, connection to career, and effective partnerships.

Early College

In 2016, the Boards of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education looked at whether the state could devise an early college strategy. They commissioned a study, done by Parthenon-EY Education Practice, to look at what exists in Massachusetts and the possibility of expanding successful models. The report found early college is a promising model that narrows educational opportunity gaps, and existing programs were a powerful base from which to build a broader statewide early college initiative.

Organizations that have received the Early College designation.

To learn more about Early College programs, review the Early College Criteria Download Word Document, finalized by the Early College Joint Committee (ECJC) and the Boards of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Higher Education in June 2017.

Presentation on Early College Designation Process and Criteria Download PowerPoint File

Innovation Pathways

Innovation Pathways are designed to give students coursework and experience in a specific high-demand industry, such as information technology, engineering, healthcare, life sciences and advanced manufacturing.

Innovation Pathways are designed to create strong partnerships with employers in order to expose students to career options and help them develop knowledge and skills related to their chosen field of study before they graduate high school.

Organizations that have received the Innovation Pathways designation.

Innovation Pathway Designation Process and Timeline — AY2019-2020

The Commonwealth is again offering its local education agencies and institutions of higher education the opportunity to obtain formal designation for Innovation Pathways. Designed collaboratively by the EOE, DESE, and DHE, pathway designation will entail a two-step process ("preliminary" and "final"), as follows:

  • March 20, 2019 — Innovation Pathways Part A Preliminary Application posted
  • Mid July/Early August — Information Sessions
    • Webinars — T.B.D.
  • August 23, 2019 — Optional Intent to Apply due via Google Form — link forthcoming.
  • September 2018 — Technical assistance for preliminary applicants
    • T.B.D.
  • September 18, 2019Preliminary Designation Application due
  • October 2019 — Preliminary Designation Application review by staff
  • By November 1, 2019Preliminary Designations announced
    • Receiving a Preliminary Designation will allow the applicant to apply for a Final Designation.
  • November/December, 2019 — Staff conduct Final Designation information sessions
  • January 17, 2020Final Designation Application Due
  • February 2020 — Final Designation Application review by staff
  • March 2020
    • Final Designation Application summaries and recommendations are reviewed by the DESE Commissioner.
    • Final Designations conferred by end of month.

To learn more about Innovation Pathways, review the Innovation Pathway Criteria Download Word Document.

Presentation on Innovation Pathway Designation Process and Criteria Download PowerPoint File

Please check this page regularly for updates. If you are seeking additional information on the designation process, please email

Last Updated: December 5, 2018
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