College Pathway Programs

The Worcester Public School district strives to create a post-secondary bound culture through college pathway programs. College pathway programs connect classroom learning with real world applications and experiences. They are meant to expand and accelerate college-going opportunities to high school students, so they become empowered in their education pathway. The Worcester Public School district aspires to collaborate with students, families, high schools, college access programs, and community partners to provide students with college pathway options that are meaningful, self-directed, and that can help with successful transition into postsecondary programs. Specific benefits for students who participate in college pathway programs include:

  • Preparation for success after high school, where students are informed on what they need to accomplish to achieve their postsecondary and career goals.
  • Preparation for students to pursue a full range of postsecondary opportunities, including college degree and certificate programs, formal employment training, apprenticeship, or military service.
  • Allows students to choose a context for learning that is interesting to them which can increase motivation and engagement.


Advanced Placement

Program mission/purpose:

Advanced Placement courses provide students with unique learning experiences that help ensure college success. Students engage in intense discussions, solve problems collaboratively, and learn to write clearly and persuasively, while developing time management skills, discipline and study habits. Students who achieve a score of 3, 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam may earn college credit from many four-year colleges in the US. Worcester Public Schools offers over 20 Advanced Placement Courses in on-site, community-based or virtual learning settings.

Recommendations for Advanced Placement Enrollment:

Students who are interested in enrolling in Advanced Placement Courses should discuss readiness for this challenging learning opportunity with their parents, teachers and guidance counselors.

The following indicators should be considered together when assessing a student’s readiness. One indicator is not more valuable than another in determining readiness.

  • AP Potential using PSAT results
  • Motivation and interest
  • Course expectations and course work
  • Prior grades in the same-discipline courses
  • The number of same-discipline courses taken

Teachers may assign work to students during the summer to help prepare them for the course. Summer course work supports students’ preparation, but it is not required as a component of the student’s grade; teachers may waive this requirement for individual students when necessary.

Advanced Placement Exams

Students are responsible for costs for Advanced Placement Exams. The cost for one Advanced Placement Exam is $93.00. Scholarships and reduced fees are available for eligible students. School guidance counselors can provide additional information. Students must take the Advanced Placement Examination in their course in order to receive Advanced Placement credit for the course. Students who do not take the Advanced Placement Examination, but pass the course, shall receive honors credit for the course.

For more information please visit:  Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement Capstone

The Worcester Public School’s is honored to offer the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Program. The Worcester Public Schools recently applied to participate in the program to provide our students with rigorous and relevant coursework that will prepare our students for post-secondary education and future careers. Additional details about the program in individual high school will be available later in the 2016-2017 school year.

Program mission/purpose:

The Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Program is a College Board endorsed innovative program that equips students with independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills valued by colleges. The Program is based upon two Advanced Placement courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Seminar emphasizes critical skills needed for college and beyond. AP Research compliments the in-depth subject matter study in Advanced Placement courses. Students can select any content area to explore for their research including the Humanities, the Arts, the Sciences, Technology, and much more.

Students typically take AP Seminar in the 10th or 11th grade, followed by AP Research in 12th grade. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will receive the AP Capstone Diploma™. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills. Alternatively, students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research will receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate™ signifying their attainment of college-level academic and research skills.

The AP Capstone Program empowers students to:

  • Synthesize information from multiple perspectives
  • Apply skills in new situations and cross-curricular contexts
  • Collect and analyze information with accuracy and precision
  • Craft, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments
  • Practice disciplined and scholarly research skills while exploring relevant topics that appeal to their interests and curiosity.

Program requirements:

Students enrolled in the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Program are required to complete AP Seminar and AP Research courses. Students must enroll in AP Seminar first in order to enroll in AP Research as a senior.

AP Seminar is a 1-credit, yearlong course for sophomores, juniors, or seniors that entails a team project and presentation, research-based essay and presentation, and end-of-course exam administered and scored by the College Board. In this foundational course, typically taken in grade 10 or 11, students develop and strengthen analytic and inquiry skills, exploring two to four relevant issues chosen by the student and/or teacher. Students learn to consider an issue from multiple perspectives, evaluate the strength of an argument, and make logical, fact-based decisions. Students will question, research, explore, pose solutions, develop arguments, collaborate, and communicate using various media.

AP Research is a 1-credit, senior, yearlong course that entails a research process documentation, an academic thesis paper, and public presentation and oral defense. AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research.  The second course in the AP Capstone experience allows students to design, plan, and conduct a year-long research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest. Through this inquiry and investigation, students demonstrate the ability to apply scholarly understanding to real-world problems and issues.  Students further the skills developed in AP Seminar by understanding research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information to build, present, and defend an argument. Students may choose to:

  • Dig deeper into a topic studied in an AP course
  • Work across academic areas with an interdisciplinary topic
  • Study a new area of interest, perhaps one for further study at the college level

Advanced Placement (AP) Seminar and Research Certificate

Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research will receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate from the College Board. Students may earn college and university credit for their achievement on AP Exams.

Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma

Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four (4) additional AP Exams of their choosing during their academic career will receive the AP Capstone Diploma from the College Board. Students may earn college and university credit for their achievement on AP Exams.

For more information please visit:

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

Program mission/purpose:

AVID's mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

AVID, a fourth through twelfth grade system is designed to prepare students in the academic middle for four year college eligibility. These are students who are capable of completing a college preparatory curriculum, but who are in need of support as they advance to the most rigorous classes that guide them to a successful college career and beyond. The main components of the AVID Elective classes are: academic instruction in critical reading and writing, organizational skills, college tutorial support, and a focus on higher order thinking skills.

AVID is a pathway to Advanced Placement courses.

AVID District Professional Development Plan:

  • Monthly AVID site team meetings held in the individual school sites
  • Monthly AVID district site coordinators’ meetings
  • New teacher and principal professional development trainings
  • October Professional Development Day offerings for AVID/AP teachers and Guidance Counselors District-wide
  • Summer Institute in Worcester: Five days of intensive instruction focusing on AVID Strategies and Technology usage. ex: Socratic Seminar, Philosophical Chairs, Critical Reading and Writing, IPad training , Higher Order Thinking Skills.
  • AVID Summer Institute in PA. Presented by AVID Center: Opportunities consist of 33 AVID strategy strand offerings in a four-day training event. Twenty people attend each year.
  • AVID Annual Conference: A three day AVID Instructional Strategy with new AVID Strategy focus
  • AVID Center Web Instruction: Live AVID website instruction and charts

Program contact:

Sharon Leary, Avid District Liaison
20 Irving Street
Worcester, MA 01609
[email protected]

For more information please visit: AVID

Burncoat Fine Arts

Program overview:

Location: Burncoat Middle and Burncoat High

Contact: 508-799-3390 / 508-799-3300

Suggested that students and families apply in early winter of grade 6

No application for program, students and families must apply for special permission with the Instruction & School Leadership Office.

Focus: College preparatory program in dance, music, visual art, and theatre.

  • Students have class in the program of their choice every day.  For example, if you select music, you will have a music class built into you schedule every day.
  • There are after school and evening commitments that students are required to attend.

For more information please visit: Burncoat Fine Arts

Dual Enrollment

Program overview:

High school students in the Worcester Public Schools who wish to pursue advanced or specialized courses beyond those offered in their high schools may take courses at these area colleges:

  • Anna Maria College
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Assumption College
  • Quinsigamond Community College
  • Becker College
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute ** Offers courses at reduced tuition to high school students.
  • Clark University Worcester State University

With a Guidance Counselor’s recommendation and approval by the college/university, students may take one college course per semester.

Students receive high school and free college credit from Assumption College, Becker College, Clark University, and for college-level courses at Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University.

For GPA computation, Worcester Public Schools students will receive the same weight as an A.P. course for each completed college course.

For more information please visit: Dual Enrollment

Early College Worcester

early college worcester logo

Program overview:

The Early College Worcester Program (ECW) is a secondary/post-secondary partnership involving Worcester Public Schools (WPS), Quinsigamond Community College (QCC), and Worcester State University (WSU).

This program enables WPS high school students to participate in college and career readiness activities and college credit course offerings. The activities and courses are offered at the high school or on the QCC or WSU campuses. Students earn college and high school credits at the same time and can graduate from high school with a high school diploma and at least 12 college credits.

The goals of the ECW program are to increase the percentage of students who are college ready, receive a high school diploma, enroll in college in the fall, and persist in college.

For more information please visit: Early College Worcester

Goddard Scholars Academy at Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School and South High Community School

Program mission/purpose

The Goddard Scholars Academy (GSA) is an academically accelerated magnet school for highly motivated, high-achieving students of the Worcester Public Schools.  The GSA is an Innovative School located within the Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School. The school has historically served grades 7-8.  Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the school expanded to serve grades 6-8, with approximately 48 students in two class groups in each grade.

The typical Goddard Scholar is a student who likes school and is eager to accept a challenging pace and curriculum.  Goddard Scholars are happiest when they are engaged and busy.


Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School (grades 6-8), and South High Community School (grades 9-12)


[email protected]


Application based (application available at the Goddard Scholars Academy page). Acceptances to the Goddard Scholars Academy will be based on MCAS/PARCC scores (or Stanine scores for students who did not take MCAS). Qualified applications must have scores of Proficient or better in both Math and ELA on the 4th grade MCAS (or PARCC equivalent scores of Math 749/ELA 752 or better). A tiered lottery system will be used to fill the 48 seats in the class.  Qualified applicants who are not accepted will be placed on a randomly ordered wait list.

For more information please visit: Goddard Scholars Academy

Virtual High School / Online Courses

Program overview:

There is a standard-based online learning program available to students that is grounded in a tradition of applied innovation, solid research, and sound pedagogy. The curriculum is rigorous and relevant, and challenges students with a 21st century approach—engaging them with interactive, media-rich content. Students have opportunities to take online high school courses that they are interested in or that they may need for their college major choice.

Online courses can also be used to help students who are short on credits and/or graduation course requirements as they get closer to graduation.