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Demonstration Schools - The AVID Mission Comes Alive

By Bob Saunders, Director National Demonstration Schools, AVID Center and Lynn Nelson, Assistant Director of Divisions, AVID Center

At a recent AVID Demonstration School validation visit in California, the principal was asked why he was continuing to fund AVID in the midst of major budget cuts. As he answered, he turned to the student panel, most of whom would be first in their family to attend college, and said, “You can’t put a price tag on hope.” The hope of a college education is a reality for this high school’s 60 plus AVID seniors who will be graduating this month.  All students, 100 percent, have met the most rigorous college entrance requirements in California and have all applied and been accepted to a four-year college or university.

It’s not surprising because the AVID College Readiness System has a long history of successfully preparing students for college with more than 90 percent of the AVID graduating seniors planning to attend a postsecondary institution.  AVID National Demonstration Schools not only maintain this high level of college-readiness for their AVID elective students, but have taken steps to infuse a strong college readiness culture for all students, as well as faculty and staff, on the campus.

AVID Demonstration Schools make important contributions to the mission of AVID by developing and implementing schoolwide college-readiness strategies, including the following:

  1. The AVID mission is integrated with the school and district academic improvement plans.
  2. The development of a schoolwide, college-going culture is visible on the campus, in classrooms and in the community, “You see college everywhere.”
  3. High student expectations and aspirations are articulated and celebrated.
  4. Faculty encourages and participates in innovative and creative initiatives that frequently become part of AVID Center’s curriculum.    
  5. There is commitment to professional learning and Professional Learning Communities, including significant number of staff attending AVID Summer Institutes and other AVID-sponsored trainings.
  6. WICOR (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading) methodologies are core to the instructional program and to site professional learning plans and activities.
  7. A culture of open and equal access and support for rigorous courses of choice for all students, evidenced by a schoolwide increase in rigorous course enrollment (AP® and Honors) and support.
  8. The school’s leadership team engages in deep thinking and rich discussions that address barriers around student achievement and college readiness for all students.
  9. Families are involved in many aspects of the school.
  10. College partnerships promote site visits, host tours for both high school and middle school students, and conduct college awareness workshops for both students and parents.

At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, 126 schools across the country had been designated as AVID National Demonstration Schools. These secondary schools implement high-quality AVID elective classes which form a firm foundation for college awareness and readiness and become the catalyst for implementing a schoolwide college-ready system for all students. If you would like additional information regarding AVID National Demonstration Schools, please contact Lynn Nelson, Assistant Director of Divisions at [email protected], or Bob Saunders, Director National Demonstration Schools at [email protected].

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