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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 this fall 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.

Massachusetts High Quality College and Career Pathways Initiative

The Commonwealth has launched a High Quality College and Career Pathways initiative that will 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.

The following organizations received early college designation, and implementation grant funding:

  1. Charlestown High School and Bunker Hill Community College — Awarded $136,280: BCC and Charlestown High School will provide career pathway programs in information technology and business, which combine early college experiences and career exploration. The schools plan to expand opportunities to high school students and eventually add more fields to the program, with health and liberal arts courses.
  2. Chelsea High School and Bunker Hill Community College — Awarded $125,686: Chelsea High School and Bunker Hill Community College will expand their existing early college program by developing pathways in three fields: health and life sciences, law and public policy, and education. The goal is to have students graduate from high school, with an associates' degree or a professional certificate from Bunker Hill Community College.
  3. Holyoke Public Schools and Holyoke Community College and — Awarded $131,600: The college is establishing a new early college program with Holyoke Public Schools that will enable students to earn up to 12 college credits before high school graduation. Students enrolled in the program will complete a minimum of two core courses taught by HCC at the Holyoke campus, and complete a minimum of two technical courses, giving students experience and a pathway to college.
  4. Massasoit Community College and New Heights Charter School of Brockton — Awarded $140,000: The program plans to expand from 315 students enrolled to 735 over five years. Students will be introduced to career options and college connections. Students will create individualized college and career plans to begin thinking about future career goals. In later grades students will participate in work and learn opportunities, identify college majors and explore college options.
  5. Salem State and Salem Public Schools — Awarded $140,000: The goal of this new program is to provide underrepresented, low-income students with a seamless transition to college, after focusing on a career pathway in healthcare or business and technology. Students who successfully complete courses during the 11th grade will be enrolled in Salem State University to continue their studies in the 12th grade and beyond.

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

Please note that given the high interest in AY2017-18 in the Early College designation, rather than offer another application process in AY2018-19, we will focus our efforts this year on supporting the numerous applicants that are pending.

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.

Launched last year, 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.

The following districts received designation and implementation grant awards:

  1. Nantucket Public Schools — Awarded $139,900 — Nantucket will launch two pathways, in health care and maritime STEM. The school district's plan creates a tight connection between it's the two pathways and the island's labor market needs. The district partnered with local employers ready to offer students experiences in their industries.
  2. Northampton Public Schools — Awarded $125,495 — Northampton will launch an Information Technology Pathway that will provide skill building and valuable credentials for students, who will take training courses with Tech Foundry, a community-based organization. The school district demonstrated a keen awareness of the region's IT labor market needs.
  3. Uxbridge Public Schools — Awarded $28,315 — Uxbridge Public Schools began working with the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce a few years ago, focusing on advanced manufacturing. The school district's new Innovation Pathway will connect students to employers in the manufacturing sector, and provide credentialing opportunities that are highly prized by local employers in the region.
  4. Worcester Public Schools — Awarded $140,000 — Worcester received designations for four pathways, each well-designed for a different industry sector. Each pathway — Allied Health, Information Technology, Civil Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing — will provide students with career exploration and relevant coursework. The district demonstrated strategic thinking about its assets and created new opportunities for students by developing a plan for students to take some of the technical courses at Worcester Technical High School.

The four school districts awarded grants will begin enrolling students in the new Innovation Pathways programs in the fall of 2018.

Innovation Pathway Designation Process and Timeline — AY2018-2019

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:

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

Frequently Asked Questions Download Word Document

If you are seeking additional information on the designation process, please email

Last Updated: December 5, 2018
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