AVID Center engages urban leaders to increase college readiness

Guest Post by Liz Morse, Director for Marketing and Communications, AVID

Editor’s Note: Last week we published a case study profiling an intersector collaboration among government, business, and non-profit organizations to create Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). The program, dedicated to preparing underachieving students for success in postsecondary institutions, serves more than 700,000 students in more than 4,800 schools. Below, Liz Morse, AVID’s Director for Marketing and Communications, provides an update on the remarkable accomplishments of this collaboration.

blog_image_AVIDIn city after city across the United States, urban leaders and stakeholders recognize that economic prosperity requires a high-quality educational system that enables increased educational attainment and ensures success for all students. Unfortunately, for decades now, educational systems in America’s major cities have struggled to support all students. Many of America’s urban centers face persistent and troublesome achievement gaps that separate racial and ethnic minority students from their peers.

A glimpse of these gaps can be seen in the nation’s high school dropout rates. In 2012, just 4.3 percent of America’s white students dropped out of high school. That same year, 7.5 percent of African American students and 12.7 percent of Hispanic students dropped out, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This gap is even more dramatic in major cities.

To make positive changes, commitment, vision, and support are required of not only school leaders, but of key community leaders, including city officials, businesses, foundations, and faith-based organizations. With support from the Citi Foundation, AVID Center (Advancement Via Individual Determination) convened key education leaders from 16 urban centers across the country to learn about how the consistency, support, and rigor of programs such as AVID can be vital contributors to improving success for all students and turning schools around. AVID and its partners shared strategies and tactics to provide urban center leaders with hope, solutions, and inspiration to solve the educational challenges faced by their communities.

During the convening, participants from public and private sectors heard from nationally recognized education experts on significant issues facing urban school districts and students of color. They learned from students and teachers through a video about the initiative, in-person panel discussions, and a presentation of the research and evaluation results. In discussions that took place throughout the convening, participants had the opportunity to discuss the problems faced in their communities, their aspirations for their youth, and how what they heard from the experts and panelists could be applied to strengthen the educational systems in their communities.

The AVID system targets youth with potential and a desire to succeed, but with typically little to no knowledge about the college admissions process, higher-order organizational skills, or support, to make their dreams a reality. For nearly 35 years, AVID has been working in communities across the country to prepare all students, especially those who would be first-generation college students, for higher education. Driven by knowledge, experience, and research garnered from working with students, educators, and communities, AVID knows that students from low-income families without a college-going tradition can succeed in high school and graduate college-ready—if they have the right supports in place. To achieve this, students need a suite of academic and social supports that are consistently available and that they can readily access.

Over the past five years, AVID has partnered with Citi Foundation to work specifically with African American male students. While the convening focused on this targeted student group, the lessons learned, the teaching strategies developed, and the positive results for students can be applied to all underserved, and culturally and ethnically diverse groups. One result of the initiative was the development of a curriculum that addressed the social and economic barriers specific groups of students experience. AVID developed Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) curriculum and training that has been integrated into the AVID system to boost professional development and coaching for teachers. This enhancement helps give students in all subgroups greater access to the academic support and rigor required for college readiness.

AVID’s A Blueprint for Success integrates lessons learned from the initiative with African American male students. The Blueprint, designed for the convening to help education stakeholders in various sectors—including school, business, community, foundation, and faith-based leaders—helped participants:

  • Understand and assess the state of their current academic support programs;
  • Enhance and implement equitable, consistent, and rigorous academic supports that help students become college-ready; and
  • Replicate and sustain programs that increase educational attainment, resulting in long-term economic growth and vitality.

AVID continues to support community leaders in their efforts to provide teachers and students with the skills and tools needed to succeed in school. This shared commitment, vision, and support will ensure that successful programs are sustained, even during challenging economic and transitioning political times, so that all students have equal access to educational attainment. For more information, please explore www.avid.org.