- Georgia’s Fulton County has joined the Los Angeles Unified School District and many others in partnering with a national college-readiness non-profit AVID to help close achievement gaps and provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the extra skills and encouragement they need to successfully pursue more rigorous courses, according to The Hechinger Report.
- AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, has a $75 million annual budget that now reaches almost two million students at more than 6,400 schools across the nation and overseas, training teachers to run a special elective that teaches organizational skills, involves at-risk students in leadership activities, and provides peer support.
- Though AVID has its critics, who feel that the money invested would be better spent in lowering class sizes, it does have a growing body of research to back its effectiveness, and educators say its programming is changing teachers' perceptions of disadvantaged students and giving those students a greater voice and more confidence as they gain leadership skills and pursue more challenging coursework.
As many school leaders are now finding themselves with a more diverse student population and a growing number of low-income students, they are looking for ways to close achievement gaps and provide these students with the extra measure of support they need to navigate academic waters. Many students don’t have a parental support system at home through which to learn simple organizational skills that allow them to keep track of school work. Others lack the encouragement needed to tackle the more rigorous courses needed to pursue college studies.
One of the aspects of education that AVID does best is teaching the organizational and study skills necessary to succeed. Most teachers assume students at the secondary level have a basic understanding of study skills, but that is often not true. For some students, these skills come somewhat naturally or their family members show them the ropes. But there are others for whom this is a mystery.
Telling a student to study harder does little good if they have no idea how to single out the most pertinent information and take effective notes. As students learn these skills through AVID or other means, it also helps encourage a growth mindset in students and teachers alike.
Schools can only go so far in meeting the needs of all students. They often need community partners to help encourage, instruct and mentor students who need an extra measure of support. Other community partner organizations nationwide, such as Communities in Schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs, also provide mentoring opportunities, develop leadership skills, and help encourage student success.