Kathleen Beckham, Oxnard High School AVID Coordinator
“Look what they did! Look what they did!” Tom shouted as he ran into the teacher break room. He talked quickly, incessantly, about the gains his remedial, two-period block, sophomore English/Reading students were making since the introduction of AVID senior peer tutors and AVID-trained college tutors.
“They believe they can learn. They talk to each other and help each other. They have awesome opinions, and those who never talk are sharing and helping others! This is amazing. Why did I ever doubt this?” Tom continued to speak excitedly as he showed papers and projects to me. He had been a member of the skeptical group at our high school, Oxnard High School in Oxnard, California, an AVID National Demonstration School since 2008. Tom had finally agreed to be a part of a grand experiment in the 2010 school year. As the AVID Coordinator, I had decided to target two remedial English classes and two remedial math classes, train the teachers in Tutorology, and send tutors to their classes on the same schedule as the AVID elective classes. Tom, the English teacher, and Rachel, the math teacher were ecstatic with the successful results and the improvements not only in their classroom climates, but also in the students’ attitudes and their subsequent test scores.
Tom and Rachel both had schedules that supported control groups; they each had two classes receiving tutorial support and two classes not receiving support. I needed data to compare the difference in the target classes’ and the control classes’ performance on the high-stakes testing. We were all back to the age-old question in education: We believe this will work, and we see the drastic changes in the students, but do we have data to support it? Time and tests would tell.
In the beginning of the grand experiment year, Oxnard High School got a new principal. Dr. Eric Riegert. Dr. Riegert was not only a staunch supporter of AVID, but decided that it would be the vehicle used to increase sub-group performances on the CSTs. Before we even received the data from 2010, he decided that we would expand the AVID tutorial to multiple targeted remedial and special education classes. Instead of two targeted teachers, I identified twelve who met the criteria and had a control class in the subject. Taking the teacher personalities out of the equation was a goal to determine if the tutorial was the factor that affected achievement.
Did this grand experiment work? Is it affecting student achievement on the high-stakes testing, and how is it funded and organized? Can it be duplicated?
On December 6-7, 2012, at the AVID National Conference in San Diego, California, Dr. Riegert and I will be discussing this new innovative model and how it affected our school population and sub-groups. Join us for a lively discussion!
Kathleen Beckham is a career educator and has been the AVID Coordinator at Oxnard High School for nine years. OHS serves 500 AVID students a year and has been an AVID National Demonstration School since 2008.