Propelling more kids to college through AVID’s teacher-centric efforts

Queen Creek, AZ | Submitted by Stephanie Ingersoll

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In Queen Creek Unified School District (QCUSD), students are benefiting from increased teacher training and support. It’s part of a national program aimed at closing the achievement gap and creating a college-going culture in schools.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), is currently active in 47 states, including Arizona. With programs for kindergarten through college, it’s having a big impact on student achievement and helping move the needle on Arizona Education Progress Meter goals to improve learning and close the achievement gap.

The program goes beyond the traditional college and career readiness tactics to help educators foster a more equitable, student-centered approach. Partner schools benefit from professional development, a suite of resources, and ongoing support to ensure a lasting impact that maximizes their return on investment. For primary grades, this might mean helping teachers develop and reinforce academic behaviors and higher-level thinking at a young age. It’s about laying a strong foundation for future learning. In these grades, each classroom adopts a college or university and students learn what they can about the school. QCUSD has even added a communications component. Youth are paired with current college-goers, who serve as pen pals who can help get them excited about life in college.

In middle and high schools, AVID gets even more involved. Teacher training is still an important component. But beyond that, students attend an AVID elective course. This provides the academic, social, and emotional support that will help them succeed in their school’s most rigorous courses. The period includes Socratic-style peer tutoring, guidance on how to take notes, and more.

The team at QCUSD recognized immediately how valuable AVID would be to their teachers and students. Their dedication to the program has really paid off – Newell Barney Middle School has been named a National Demonstration site. This comes as a result of their success implementing AVID and its values. Moving forward, school leaders will come from all over the country to see AVID in action at the school. As one of only eight demonstration schools in Arizona, the distinction is a big honor.

To help alleviate summer learning loss, QCUSD implemented AVID’s summer bridge program. Students can join to cover everything from Adventures in Algebra to Mission Impossible: Hands on Science. Having AVID available to schools is helping to create opportunities for all youth. And it’s not just academics. AVID helps with other transferable skills, including organization, time management, collaboration and more.

And it’s not just kids in Queen Creek who have access to these opportunities. AVID has been in Arizona since 2000. Mesa Public Schools was the first district to engage. In that time, the program has grown to more than 200 schools with 39 new Arizona sites joining next year alone. In the 2017-18 school year, AVID reached 36,000 students in Arizona. And the changes are noticeable. Nearly all AVID high schoolers graduate on time, with an average GPA of 3.2. What’s more, they are more likely to go to college and persist once they get there.

Here’s what a few district leaders had to say about the benefits of AVID:

“AVID is a cornerstone of the district’s strategic initiative to increase student achievement and a critical component to meeting the needs of every student, increasing rigor, eliminating the achievement gap, and ensuring college and career readiness.” – Superintendent

“In Phoenix Union, we continue to champion and invest in AVID. The professional development and programming for staff and students has proven, year after year, to yield excellent results. This past fall, we were extremely proud to launch our country’s first all-AVID high school – Wilson College Preparatory. North High also became an official AVID Demonstration School last school year.” – Superintendent

Anyone can see AVID in action at all grade levels at Showcases.Learn more at avid.org/showcases.

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