Academy definition and creation is an iterative process led by teacher leaders and community partners. These five tenets provide for equity of educational experience, specifically emerging from the learning by staff, students, parents, and community members who completed more than 150 visits to high schools across Massachusetts and the nation. Common tenets provide minimum expectations for program design and ensure equitable access for all students to high quality, effective, aligned learning opportunities, in each academy.
- All pathways prepare students for career and college success through exploration activities, coursework and outcomes. Exploration is built into classes, activities and applied learning opportunities. The greater regional educational community and the economy are reflected in the pathway design. Students and families choose the post-secondary destination. Staff members support students’ interests and development through instruction, mentoring and guidance.
- Students apply learning, engage in design thinking and innovation, and contribute to the community through project-based learning, including capstone projects. Project-based learning requires students to acquire deeper learning by solving real-world challenges and problems. In Holyoke Public Schools, the community serves as the campus for project-based learning. Students’ learning opportunities extend beyond the walls of the school and include work-based learning opportunities, such as internships and work study.
- The content within each pathway is aligned to 21st century education and industry-based standards. In addition to content knowledge, graduates demonstrate competency in thinking critically, communicating with purpose, problem solving, collaborating and using technology. Capstone projects provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of academic and non-academic standards.
- Students learn about their interests, preferences and abilities throughout high school and are guided by caring adults in the development of flexible and personalized Students and their families make informed choices about applying to academies, concentrations within academies and outcomes for individual pathways – college first, then career; career, then advanced certification; or both college and career simultaneously. Students have choice of instructional modes, projects, and courses to demonstrate mastery for graduation criteria. An increased emphasis on career and college planning collaboratively guided by families, teachers, and guidance counselors will support students setting their own direction.
- All students complete a common set of requirements to graduate. In addition, each pathway provides opportunities for students to earn stackable credentials, which include college credit; degrees; credit-bearing, non-credit, and work readiness certificates; badges; professional/industry certifications; apprenticeships; and licenses – all of which attest to graduates’ skills, knowledge, and abilities. Pathways offer Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, early college and industry certification opportunities.