By Jinan N. Sumler, Northeast States Director, AVID Center
A recent New York Times article reported that New York State students are not graduating from high school college-ready. The numbers looked grim. In 2009, only 23% of New York City students graduated college or career ready, and in urban districts in upstate New York, less than 17 percent met standards. The article went on to say that, New York State education officials are now doing a state tour considering a variety of solutions like increasing the Regents (state test) passing score; making standardized tests more difficult; and increasing flexibility in the number of Regents exams a student has to pass. To lower the bar or raise the bar, that is the question.
Raising standards and expecting more out of our children can be beneficial, but it’s not enough (and why would we lower standards?). Frankly, if raising the bar were all we had to do, we would see tremendous success in many places. Too often we turn to the opposite solution: lower the bar and then praise ourselves for a job well done when scores are higher. At the end of the day, we’ve done nothing but hurt our students because they still aren’t prepared for life after high school. Here’s an idea: Raise the bar and give students the skills they need to be successful. When we ask students to meet higher standards without changing the way we do school, it’s like telling a student to compete in the Olympics wihtout providing a coach or training.
So, what does it mean to be a college-ready student? Does it mean exposure to college students, college campuses, college financial services, and college expectations for academic success? Or maybe it means taking AP and honors classes, completing Algebra in the 8th grade? How about developing critical thinking skills or learning how to write in mathematics and science? Imagine a classroom where students add all of these skills and experiences to their educational vitae. Then a successful college experience is most definitely in their future. This imaginary classroom exists. This classroom is an AVID classroom.
AVID’s college readiness system works, and students in New York classrooms are proving it every day. There are AVID classes in New York City, Syracuse, Rochester, Ithaca, East Irondequoit, Lyndonville, Ramapo and White Plains.
- In New York City, 100% of AVID students graduated from high school and 95% completed college entrance requirements. Students applied to schools like Fordham, Hofstra, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Penn State and NYU.
- Rochester AVID students outscored non-AVID students on the NY State Regents. In ELA, 83% scored a 65 or higher (compared to 63% in the district).
- In Syracuse, 95% of AVID students graduated and 84% of juniors and seniors took AP or IB classes.
- Nationally, the average proportion of AVID seniors completing college entrance requirements, regardless of ethnicity, ranges from 87-93%. This is compared to national averages of non-AVID students ranging from 21-49%.
There are AVID success stories all around the world. And yet, we are still looking for solutions, still choosing between the red pill and the blue pill…. In truth, the formula is simple:
1 bushel of students with determination in their eyes
1 part outstanding administrator carrying a torch and wearing overalls
Equal parts quality teachers with unwavering expectations
Plenty of district support
Daily doses of writing, inquiry, collaboration, reading and organization
Unlimited amount of patience and perseverance
Mix together with intention and care
**for more flavor, add in Socratic seminars, guest speakers, and trips to local colleges and universities**
With more than 30 years of experience and always putting students at the forefront of all decisions, AVID educators know how to do school, and they teach students the necessary skills so they will be college ready. Achievement Gap? Ha! AVID is building bridges to prepare all students for college readiness and success. What’s your formula?