Multiple pathway programs are unique exploratory courses or programs that are not part of a specific pathway program. Instead, they support multiple pathway programs across the industry sectors.

Advanced Authentic Research (AAR)

AAR is an adaptive course that can be taken as a standalone exploration or as a pathway capstone project. AAR provides a unique opportunity for students in grades 10-12 to explore and develop their interest, passion, curiosity, and perseverance as they investigate a topic of their own choosing. Students are paired with industry mentors in their chosen field of research, who provide context and professional expertise to support and facilitate each student’s work. Student research is supported by the process-oriented curriculum developed by the AAR team. The recursive nature of the research process allows students to go back and forth between the different stages of inquiry as they encounter new information. The program innovatively adapts Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation standards in conjunction with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for science and engineering practices, and PAUSD’s vision statement for students to explore topics in a wide variety of disciplines across all industry sectors. 

AP Capstone

AP Capstone is a College Board program that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. The program cultivates curious, independent, and collaborative scholars and prepares them to make logical, evidence-based decisions. AP Capstone is comprised of two courses – AP Seminar and AP Research – and is designed to complement and enhance the discipline-specific study in other courses. Participating schools can use the AP Capstone program to provide unique research opportunities for current AP students, or to expand access to AP by encouraging students to master the argument-based writing skills that the AP Capstone program develops. 

Sixth Grade Exploratory Wheel

Middle Schools offer a stand-alone courses that provide 6th grade students with the opportunity to sample courses in industrial technology, drama and stage production, language, computer applications, art, family and consumer science, and more, and provides students with tools to thrive.

Social Justice Pathway (SJP)

SJP is an interdisciplinary pathway that cohorts 60 students with an English and History teacher for 3 years of study utilizing project-based learning and promoting leadership within the school and community. Students view the curriculum through a social justice lens, exploring who has access to rights and opportunities in our world and why; who is being given their due and whether or not that is fair; and deciding what to do about it all. SJP’s seniors, working through the AAR course, conducted extensive research of the needs and impact of social justice issues within the greater community. The students designed and proposed action research projects addressing and ameliorating the social injustices evident within the community, then executed their plan by working with members of the community who impact or are impacted by these social injustices. As students executed their AAR projects, they collected data to analyze the impact of their program to make recommendations for further study and for further action to strengthen the Palo Alto community.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) - Human and Animal Subjects Review Committee (HASRC)

Staff or professionals conducting human subject research or data collection through human interactions (staff and/or students) requires PAUSD Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. If applicable, this should occur after being approved by their research sponsoring institution. If you will be studying human or animal subjects, you must submit your project proposals to the IRB for approval (BP 6162.8). 

The committee meets to evaluate outside agencies, staff, and students’ proposals for any risk of psychological, physical, legal, social, institutional, economic harm, or unethical practices. The IRB is a panel of diverse district and site staff covering a wide array of expertise, as well as an external reviewer from Stanford University.

PAUSD considers protection of our staff and student data a high priority.