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Making the Grade: Worcester, MA Schools Excels When it Comes to Education

Worcester earns high marks for its wide range of educational offerings

By Teree Caruthers on September 22, 2021

Teacher helps two young students at a table in Worcester MA

Worcester offers residents a wealth of high-quality educational options, including a diverse and exceptional public school system and a number of stellar private and parochial schools. Having such a wide variety to choose from helps lure new businesses and top talent to the region and enhances the quality of life for families.

88%

Percentage of Worcester Public Schools graduating seniors who enroll in college

“School choice is so important for families because not every child learns the same, and not every household is the same,” says Jill O’Brien, a parent with two children enrolled in Worcester Public Schools. “So, if I have a child who has a disability, and I have one who doesn’t, one school may be better for them than another school, and in Worcester, we have those choices.”

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On the Right Path

Worcester Public Schools operates 44 schools and serves students as early as preschool. The school system boasts a diverse population — more than 70 languages are spoken in the schools — as well as diverse program offerings that give students multiple options when preparing for college and careers. Niche.com ranked the district the third-most diverse in Massachusetts.

84%

The average graduation rate for Worcester Public Schools

The school system offers Chapter 74 career vocational-technical programs, including engineering, health sciences and culinary arts, at three of its high schools.

“These programs offer kids opportunities to get trained in different vocational areas with the choice to either go on to college at the end of the training or go straight to work,” says Maureen Binienda, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools.

For example, North High School offers a health and science pipeline connected to UMass Medical School. Students can earn a medical assistant certification while in high school and intern at the hospital and then go on to a paid position.

“Many of our students go on to become nurses or doctors,” Binienda says. The Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, which serves 11th and 12th-grade students, ranked No. 10 on Business Insider’s Smartest Public High Schools in America. In addition, Worcester Technical High School ranked No. 2 on Niche.com’s list of Standout High Schools in Massachusetts.

25,415

Number of students enrolled in Worcester Public Schools

Binienda points to the diesel technology program at the new South High Community School as an example of the system’s responsive curriculum.

“There are only two auto tech programs in diesel mechanics in Massachusetts right now, and one is at South High School. Students can learn diesel tech, which is a very unique field, and they can graduate from there and get a job in any diesel industry or go on to a community college to get more credentials,” she says.

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Courtesy of Greater Winston-Salem, Inc.

Unlimited Options

In addition to the vocational and technical programs, Worcester Public Schools offers a number of college preparatory, gifted and advanced placement courses as well as the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which prepares students in fourth through 12th grades for four-year college eligibility.

43

The number of Early College courses are offered at every public high school in Worcester

Specialized “schools within a school” allow students to pursue their unique interests. For example, the Burncoat Fine Arts Magnet quadrant focuses on visual and performing arts. In addition, Goddard Scholars Academy at South High is tailored for high-achieving students.

Students can also enroll in the Early College Worcester Program through a partnership with Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University and take college courses while in high school. In addition, the school system is still growing, including the new South High Community School, a new Doherty High School, which is expected to open in 2024, and a new Spanish dual-language program for high school students.

$430.8 million

Amount of money spent over the past 13 years renovating Worcester Public Schools and adding facilities

Worcester also offers two strong options for school choice. The Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School, which has more than 1,400 K-12 students, boasts a graduation rate of more than 95% and ranked No. 17 on Niche.com’s Best Charter Schools in Massachusetts. In addition, seven Hills Charter School, with an enrollment of nearly 700, has a 13:1 student-teacher ratio.

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Training Future Leaders

Worcester is also home to several top-tier private schools, including Bancroft School, Alhuda Academy, the Nativity School of Worcester, Notre Dame Academy, Worcester Academy and Saint John’s High School.

50+

Academic, athletic and social clubs offered to students at Saint John’s each year

Saint John’s, an all-boys Catholic School, has been serving young men for more than 100 years and draws students from some 65 different cities from as far away as Rhode Island and Connecticut. The school counts several communities and business leaders among its alumni, including Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, a former Massachusetts lieutenant governor, and former Worcester mayor.

65

The number of cities represented in the student body of Saint John’s, an all-boys Catholic School

“We work hard to educate young men holistically. We care about them academically, but we also care about them spiritually, and we want them to make sure that they are physically and emotionally prepared for college,” says Alex Zequeira, headmaster of Saint John’s High School. “We accomplish that through a community that cares about our students and our families. That’s something that’s very important here. When you come to Saint John’s, you join a community not just for your time at the school, but, frankly, for the rest of your life.”

Zequeira says the school boasts a rigorous academic curriculum, including nationally recognized AP and STEM programs supported by an exceptional staff and state-of-the-art facilities.

“We also have very robust extracurricular, co-curricular and spiritual programming at the school as well as a very accomplished, well respected athletic program with 17 different sports students can participate in,” Zequeira says. “In a given year, we have over 50 different clubs and activities that meet, many of which are student-generated and all of which are student-led. For families looking for the most complete program and the most complete opportunity for their young men, I think that Saint John’s is a destination for them.”

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