By Adria Tate, College Readiness Systems Manager, Denver Public Schools
AVID Center and International Baccalaureate (IB), have a strong working relationship between the two organizations, but there is often confusion in school districts on whether AVID and IB are competing or complementary. To help schools develop their best practices for AVID and IB, I have spent the past several months interviewing educators at 8 AVID/IB high schools and 5 AVID/IB middle schools who are doing amazing work between their AVID and IB programs to better support student success. A pattern emerged with the most successful sites: AVID’s Schoolwide approach. According to AVID Center, “AVID is schoolwide when a strong AVID program transforms the leadership, systems, instruction, and culture of a school ensuring college readiness for all students." Those four schoolwide domains are defined here:
- AVID Schoolwide Leadership: sets the vision and the tone that promotes college readiness and high expectations for all students in the school.
- AVID Schoolwide Systems: when systems are in place that support governance, curriculum & instruction, data collection & analysis, professional learning, and student & parent outreach to ensure college readiness.
- AVID Schoolwide Instruction: when the entire instructional staff utilizes AVID strategies, other best instructional practices, and 21st Century tools to ensure college readiness for all students.
- AVID Schoolwide Culture: when the AVID philosophy progressively shifts the system of beliefs and behaviors thus increasing all students meeting college readiness requirements.
There were seven “best practices” that emerged from these interviews: leadership, the school schedule, the building of the master schedule, the school culture, professional learning, the make-up of the AVID Site Team, and the IB implementation structure. Five of the seven “best practices” noted in the findings reflect AVID’s Schoolwide approach. In terms of leadership, a successful partnership of AVID and IB meant that the site leadership, including the principal, not only had knowledge of both programs, but had received training in both programs, fully supported the AVID and IB Coordinators as true building leaders, and had committed to the use of AVID’s WICOR strategies as an instructional framework that supports all teaching and learning. Principal John Cook, from Robbinsdale Middle School describes his leadership role as, “working to place teachers and coordinators in strategic positions and hope to empower them by developing a shared belief system.”
While school systems include many layers, the school schedule and the building of the master schedule definitely reflect systems that put students first. In the successful AVID/IB schools, the master schedule is driven by AVID and IB and has the IB and AVID Coordinators as major advisors to this process. Also, IB and AVID classes are scheduled first, the design of the master schedule is “student driven,” the creation of the master schedule is collaborative, and teaching assignments, in many cases, have the AVID Elective teachers as IB teachers. As a result, the school schedule reflects creativity and flexibility. I’ve seen several examples of this creativity in the master schedule: at JW North HS they have implemented a 9th grade AVID Elective/MYP (IB’s Middle Years Program) Humanities course; at Laredo MS and Greeley West HS the MYP technology requirement is fulfilled in the AVID Elective for AVID students; at Interlake HS they have implemented an 11th and 12th grade AVID/TOK (IB’s Theory of Knowledge) class for AVID and IB students; and at JEB Stuart HS an 8th period is offered for the IB TOK class for students, especially those in the AVID Elective. Finally, all of the high schools in this study allow students to enroll in the full Diploma Program, or take courses for a certificate, while also taking some honors, advanced and AP courses, another important system that puts students first.
A school culture that supports a successful relationship between AVID and IB believes that all students can succeed and deserve the opportunity to do so. Jessica Seator, AVID Coordinator at Hillsboro High School said, “The AVID Elective is more than just academic support for those in IB. It provides an environment and a culture that fosters bravery and courage. These students have to be brave and courageous to take courses that they would not have taken otherwise,” and at Interlake High School both the IB and AVID teams refer to the IB/AVID partnership as “a moral imperative to address the access gap.” Culture is not developed over night, but must be nurtured, with a purpose behind each decision made.
And finally, the professional learning of the site leadership, the IB and AVID Coordinators, and the IB and AVID teachers is what truly makes the most rigorous courses accessible to all students. It is this investment by the leadership and teaching staff that has the greatest impact on student engagement and achievement in IB. At the most successful sites, schoolwide instructional strategies are used by all teachers to support all learners; AVID’s WICOR instructional framework is used to support teaching and learning; site based professional learning is done by trained AVID and IB Coordinators and teacher leaders, foundational schoolwide strategies become a non-negotiable, such as Cornell Notes, Binders, Critical Reading, Socratic Seminar, and Tutorials at schools like Hillsboro High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School. Finally, according to Glasgow Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, “AVID serves as the approach to learning that enables students to access the rigor of the IB program.” The AVID Site Team also plays an important role in schoolwide professional learning. A primary responsibility of the AVID Site Team is the promotion and professional learning of WICOR strategies.
In the weeks to come, AVID Center will be publishing a series of blogs on AVID and IB, from those supporting the sites, as well as those who are currently doing the work. AVID Center looks forward to comments and feedback from our readers. For more, see: AVID and IB: Complementary, not Competitors and Course Placement: Why Do We need to Understand the Process?.
Adria Tate is a College Readiness Systems Manager in Denver Public Schools. Prior to that role, she was an AVID Center Program Manager, working to support the AVID sites in Colorado. Originally from California, Adria received degrees in History and Sociology from the University of California, Davis, earned her teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento, and graduated “with distinction” from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She was a high school social studies for 10 years. Adria also works as a consultant and staff developer for AVID Center. She and her husband, Scott, have a three year old son, Adam, who they adopted from Uganda, Africa.