Skip to content

Oakland High School pathway programs prepare students for college

on March 15, 2018

Oakland High School is the first school within the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to have all their students enrolled in what they call “wall to wall” college preparation programs. School staff implemented them in the hopes of achieving higher retention rates between 10th and 11th grade, and higher graduation rates.

These college preparation programs include Advance Via Individual Determination (AVID), the Environmental Science Academy (ESA), Visual Arts and Academics Magnet Program (VAAMP), Project Lead the Way (PLW), and the Public Health Academy (PHA). These “pathways” allow a student to focus on a particular set of goals, and achieve them, with the help of teachers who are assigned to a specific cohort of students throughout their high school journeys. For example, students within the AVID pathway focus on becoming future college scholars. PHA students focus on gaining knowledge about the medical and health fields, while ESA students focus on learning science, and having hands-on experience in that field.

The students enrolled in specific pathways have the opportunity to take field trips to medical facilities, science labs, and art galleries. They are given the opportunity to interact with professionals in their desired career areas.

Martin Abdel-Qawi, the principal at Oakland High School, said he believes that college pathways set his students up for future success. “Pathways serve a lot of different functions. One of them is to connect them to careers and people who work in those careers. It exposes them to the different opportunities within those careers, but also exposes them to careers in general,” said Abdel-Qawi.

Jennifer Howard, an AVID teacher at Oakland High School, said all of her students have graduated from high school, and a majority went on to college.  “I have seen extreme success in each of the three cohorts I have seen graduate,” said Howard. “I can probably count on a couple hands those who don’t attend any post-secondary education. …  When you enroll in AVID, it is that intention, that college is the end goal.”

Rachel Hiloa, a senior in the Public Health Academy, believes that the program has helped her gain professional experience. The academy has allowed her to gain hands-on experience through internships and professional development training in areas such as resume building and interview practice. She said she wants to make her mom proud by graduating from high school and going on to become a nurse.

“Education is important, because most of folks just have a high school diploma or nothing at all,” said Hiloa.

Abdel-Qawi believes that this system of college preparation programs works well because it allows teachers to work with a group of students throughout their high school careers, and establishes a bond between them.

“Graduation rates for scholars that are in pathways are 20 percent higher for those who are not in pathways, and one of the primary goals for high school is to graduate scholars ready for higher education and careers,” said Abdel-Qawi.


  1. Ferroli on March 16, 2018 at 3:51 am

    It’s nice to know that schools like this one existe, with this kind of programs, it’s a pathway for a better preparation for college. working for a brighter future for these students, congratulations!

  2. Luca Morley on March 17, 2018 at 3:59 am

    Education is very important in our life. We learn how to live and we develop our capabilities by acquiring education. We need to grow up as a good mannered and good cultured citizen in our society. Education helps us to develop in all respects.

  3. edubirdie on May 1, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    I think the idea of implementing these ‘pathways’ is suitable for the upcoming college students. If we want to have competent people then we should consider giving more focus on the ways the students absorb and learn the program they choose to take and pursue. As a college student myself, I find it hard sometimes to understand the actual things to be done in my chosen profession and so I hope a lot more projects would be made to further enhance our studies. You have a great blog and I hope that you can make some more of these. I hope to hear back from you!

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top