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Study Points to Some Successes for AVID College-Readiness Model

New research suggests that the college-readiness system known as AVID—Advancement Via Individual Determination—may be effective in preparing underserved students to succeed in college.

The National Student Clearinghouse found that high school graduates from 2010 and 2011 who participated in the AVID program persisted through their freshman and sophomore years of college at a higher rate than their peers who were not in the program. While 87 percent of AVID students enrolled in a second year of college, 77 percent of students did overall.

AVID is a San Diego-based nonprofit that serves K-12 students in 5,000 schools in 44 states and 16 countries. Established 30 years ago, AVID trains educators to help students who are in the "academic middle" and  who have the desire to go to college to develop critical thinking, literacy, and math skills. The program focuses on behaviors for academic success, intensive tutoring, strong student-teacher relationships, and positive peer group support.

"Considering that more than two-thirds of the AVID graduates are from low socioeconomic backgrounds and minority populations, that AVID graduates outpaced their national cohorts in persisting in college is a testament to both the determination of the students and teachers, and the AVID strategies and skills that were used and learned during high school," said Sandy Husk, the chief executive officer of AVID, in a Dec. 17 press release.

The study did not address the idea that AVID students might do better because they volunteer to be in the program.  However, Dennis Johnston, the senior director and chief research officer at AVID, says many students don't come to the program with the motivation to go to college. "That's partly why they are prescreened and selected—because they are low-performing, they have potential, but they don't have the motivation," he said. "AVID creates a motivating instructional environment by design...Through this support structure, they become motivated. They want to succeed."

Nearly all AVID students (99 percent) in 2012-13 graduated from high school on time, while 86 percent applied to a four-year college and 76 percent were accepted, according to data from the more than 34,000 seniors in the program last year.

Schools can use federal, state, or local grants, or private funds to pay for AVID training and programs.

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