by Dennis A. Johnston, Ph.D.
Senior Director, Chief Research Officer
This piece also appeared in our latest issue of Access, AVID’s Educational Journal. Additional publications on AVID’s schoolwide impact are on the AVID Schoolwide page. More resources can also be found on our research page.
In 2010, AVID Center changed its mission to include all students, not just students in the academic middle. This came as a result of our continual growth in the understanding of the impact AVID has on students, teachers, administrators, and institutions overall. For more than 30 years, AVID has supported secondary schools in the implementation of the AVID Elective and the training of staff in inquiry-based pedagogical strategies designed to exercise and strengthen the metacognitive skills necessary for students to engage rigorous curriculum and be successful in postsecondary education. Today, AVID has moved beyond elective classrooms and is designed to be implemented schoolwide so as to touch all students on a campus in support of our new mission.
So what does schoolwide AVID look like?
Schoolwide AVID at the secondary level doesn’t mean that all students are enrolled in an AVID Elective class. What it does mean is that all students thrive in an environment where academic expectations are held high; inquiry-based pedagogy and collaboration are evidenced in all classrooms; systems and structures focus on the needs of students; and campus leadership has cultivated a culture of college readiness and success for all students.
When stepping onto a campus where AVID is schoolwide, it is not uncommon to see all students taking Cornell notes; using some form of binder, agenda planner, or other organizational tool; and engaging in collaborative, dynamic academic activities in classrooms facilitated by AVID-trained teachers. Students have open access to rigorous courses like honors, advanced math, Advanced Placement®, International Baccalaureate® and dual enrollment. Moreover, academic support structures are often offered throughout the school day so that all students have opportunities to thrive.
How is schoolwide AVID different from the AVID Elective experience?
In most respects, when AVID is implemented with fidelity schoolwide there is little that distinguishes an AVID Elective classroom from any other. The most obvious difference is the tutorial opportunities afforded AVID Elective students that aren’t typically seen schoolwide. AVID tutorials are dynamic study groups, facilitated by college students that occur twice a week. Tutorials are a critical support structure for AVID students, as those in the academic middle traditionally have not been offered these types of services in any consistent or systematic fashion. Students in the upper academic quartile are often not in need of intensive tutorial support but can benefit greatly from the metacognitive skill development that AVID affords, e.g., organizational skills, time management, speaking and listening skills and Cornell note-taking strategies. Students in the lowest academic quartile, on the other hand, tend to have many support structures in place, some of which are required through local and Federal legislation, e.g., Title 1, double blocks of mathematics and language arts courses, and specialized reading labs.
How does a school transform into an AVID Schoolwide School?
Over the years we have learned that there are many paths schools take to ensure all students are touched by AVID. As a result of our experiences and a review of relevant literature, a team of researchers, educators, and administrators developed the AVID Schoolwide College Readiness Coaching Tool, which AVID members can find in MyAVID, under File Sharing. This tool is used to coach schools to address the four domains of, Leadership, Systems, Instruction, and Culture, in such a way so as to ensure that all students are held to high expectations, are afforded appropriate support structures, and are ready for the rigors of college upon graduation. One of the most common characteristics among schools that have taken AVID schoolwide is that a significant percentage of their teachers and administrators attended AVID’s Summer Institute or AVID Path training. This has led to changes in the culture on these campuses allowing for more rapid adoption of inquiry-based instructional strategies, open-access to rigorous courses, and the implementation of academic supports for all students. Strong AVID site teams can help move this transformation forward.
How can the AVID Center support your school on its journey to schoolwide AVID?
AVID Center provides extensive support to our member sites through our program managers and state and divisional office staff. AVID Center staff members throughout the country are trained to work with district directors and AVID site teams as they continue their journey from AVID Elective implementation to Schoolwide AVID. Just as you are committed to your students, we are committed to you in providing world class professional learning at Summer Institute and through our Path, Leadership for College Readiness (LCR), and Data Analysis trainings. Please contact your district director, AVID program manager or divisional office if you have additional questions or would like more information regarding increasing your commitment to students by taking AVID schoolwide!
by Dennis A. Johnston, Ph.D.