At the end of his Niu Valley Middle School eighth grade year, my son was given the option of applying for AVID at Kaiser High School. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and is a college and career preparedness route students can take.
AVID’s early roots date back to the late 70s. The program got its first classroom debut in 1980 at Clairemont High School in San Diego with the help of a $7,000 grant. Since then, the program has grown dramatically. By its own account, “AVID now impacts more than 1.2 million students in nearly 5,000 schools and 43 postsecondary institutions in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and across 16 other countries/territories. The AVID College Readiness System spans elementary through higher education.”
Here in Hawaii, more than a dozen years ago, Campbell High School was the first to offer AVID. As of 2013, “there are 117 participating [Hawaii] schools reaching about 11,000 students. Two schools – Campbell High and Washington Middle – are national demonstration sites.”
As with most teenagers, there are few things that my son and I agree on. However, we both agree that AVID is a valuable program; almost all of the skills he learns here will be applicable to real-life scenarios. Frankly, I’m not sure why this is not offered at Niu Valley Middle School, where I think it would be even more beneficial than at the high school level.
Nationwide, AVID has proven itself as an effective tool for marginal students: those that might consider college if the options were clearly set out before them. More impressively, the rate of persistence, those still enrolled in college two years later, is in the upper 80 percent range across ethnicities. This is among a base of AVID students where 75 percent of their parents did not graduate from a college or university. In study after study, the strongest determinant of college graduation is the education level of the student’s parent. That makes AVID’s feat that much more impressive.
While my son does come from a family of college graduates, AVID is still the right fit for him. It does what I have not been able to: create a structure and plan — good habits that get repeated by its regularity. As an example, not only are students asked to bring a three-ring binder, they’re actually shown how to use them. As mundane as this may seem to most of us, in this digital age, the still necessary task of paper handling is not at all apparent to today’s youth.
Another area where AVID excels — at least at Kaiser — is in painting a picture of the future. No week goes by that my son doesn’t ask at least a few questions about careers or college, or about details no one at this point can determine, such as how much his education will set us back financially. Importantly, AVID helps him stay focused on who he is and what he would enjoy doing for a living.
AVID participants are assigned one advisor for all four years of high school. In class, students undergo a binder check to see that all materials have been submitted, a notes check, to see that they remain focused on their studies, and a tutoring submission, to request assistance in subject matter they don’t quite grasp.
As a parent, I have only positive things to say about AVID. Here in Hawaii Kai, it ought to also be rolled out to middle and elementary schools. For more information about AVID, visit their website at http://www.avid.org.