AVID expands during second year

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The second year of AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, has expanded to 11th-grade students at Austin High School.

Educational Services Director John Alberts and staff members Kristi Beckman and Kari McDermott discussed the AVID curriculum at the Austin Public Schools Board meeting Monday afternoon in the District Office Conference Room, along with several AVID students.

“I’ve seen the students as we’ve gone from an inaugural year to more of a program that’s in place, students have become more invested into the choice that they’ve made to be a part of this,” McDermott said.

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The program, which is an elective students can choose to take, focuses on students who land just below advanced placement level classes with the hopes to challenge them and get them into those classes.

The overall goal of the program is to get students into college. The students that fit the program get B’s and C’s and maybe a few D’s on average. They are students who have expressed an interest in college, but don’t quite have the means to get there yet. They may be the first in their family to go to college, and they may be underrepresented or have a lack of support at home.

But one thing the students all have in common is determination.

“Students sign up for it as an elective and they put in a lot of work into this class as an elective,” McDermott said. “Because not only do they have responsibilities to the class that includes participation activities and homework, they also have to do pieces from AVID in their other classes as well.”

AVID stays with the students throughout their classes, helping them stay organized with a large binder, teaching them to take notes and other important skills they can use throughout their day. McDermott has seen improvements across the board in grades, attendance and other areas.

“Their confidence in their potential, in their academics as well as being a different kind of student that they didn’t know they could be,” she said.

About 75 students participate in AVID — about 28 per class — and the course is offered to students in ninth- through 11th-grades. Organizers hope to expand the course to eighth- and 12th-grades next year, and seventh-grade the following year. The course is also currently offered to fourth-graders at Sumner Elementary School and fifth- and sixth-graders at I.J. Holton Intermediate School, and organizers are discussing what options would be best for the district in terms of expanding the course to other elementary schools.

Each year, the AVID curriculum is different and students can choose to participate in future years. Beckman was excited to see so many students working at the course, though she admitted many students didn’t like the course the first year as they thought it was more of a study-hall.

“At the beginning, we pushed them really hard and some of them were not quite as excited when they found out it wasn’t a study hall,” Beckman said. “But slowly I think that most of them as they began to see success began to appreciate the skills that AVID teaches them.”

“I’m just very proud of our staff and our students for all the hard work that they’ve done and I’m so excited to celebrate their successes with them as they continue to grow,” she added.

McDermott agreed.

“It’s awesome, it’s great,” she said. “The kids that have been a part of it see its value, appreciate it and want to continue being a part of it.”