Methodology for Advancement Via Individual Determination

The AVID program creates a network of support that has several different components. Each AVID district has a site team which oversees the progress of the program; this team is generally made up of faculty members, administrators, and parents. An AVID elective class is also offered for each grade level. The elective class offers an environment where students are continually challenged to improve their academic skills including reading, writing, problem-solving and organization. Within the AVID elective class, students also participate in bi-weekly tutoring sessions which are facilitated by AVID-trained tutors, usually local college students or college graduates, who also serve as role models to the AVID students. These "tutorial" sessions focus mainly on using questions, and not answers to guide students to their answer, giving opportunities for higher level thinking. In addition, all teachers within an AVID district are encouraged to utilize AVID strategies within the classroom to help nurture an environment of high standards and academic rigor in all content areas.

There are eleven essentials which guide the overall philosophy of the AVID program. These include: selecting students who would benefit from the support given in the AVID program, voluntary participation from students and teachers, commitment by the district to full implementation, a challenging and rigorous curriculum, writing and reading, collaboration, and inquiry incorporated into the AVID classroom activities, student access to AVID-trained tutors, monitoring of student progress, adequate resources to support the program, and an active site team to oversee the development and implementation of the program. When properly utilized, these eleven essentials form the foundation of a strong and successful AVID program.

The AVID elementary program is a school-wide approach that is open to all elementary students within the AVID district. As students transition into middle school and high school, a core group of students are chosen to participate in the AVID elective class. In order to participate in the AVID program, potential candidates must go through an application process which may include an examination of their grades, standardized test scores and teacher recommendations, as well as a written essay and an interview. Generally members from the district’s site team will look over the applications, conduct interviews, and make decisions about which students are accepted into the program. In addition to looking at academic indicators, like grades and test scores, site teams may also take into consideration other factors, such as if the student is economically disadvantaged, or if they are the first in their family to potentially attend college.

Once accepted into the program, AVID students are met with high expectations; they are expected to take rigorous courses, maintain outstanding grade point averages, and to set college acceptance as a goal for themselves. The AVID elective class is meant to help the AVID students attain theses goals; the class is a challenging, yet supportive environment where students can acquire strategies to help them fulfill their academic potential. Writing, inquiry, collaboration, and reading (WICR) form the basis of the AVID curriculum. This gives students the skills they need to succeed in college-preparatory classes, like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate. These techniques turn students from passive learners into active classroom contributors and critical thinkers, an approach that is necessary for college admission and success. Students also receive assistance with skills like time management, organization with the use of binders, note-taking using the Cornell notes method, and metacognition; as part of the program students are also exposed to various college and career choices through guest speakers, college visits and other various field trips.

Over the past thirty years, AVID has helped many students realize their dreams of a post-secondary education; in 2008, 87% of all AVID students applied to a four-year college and 78% of all AVID students were accepted to four-year colleges. In addition, Guthrie and Guthrie (2000) found that the majority of AVID students studied were attending four-year colleges and were on track to graduate in four or five years; more than half of them were maintaining A and B averages in college. Nelson (2007) lists several skills necessary for success in post-secondary education, including organization and study habits, effective questioning and active learning, class participation, and the ability to synthesize information. All of these “success-prep” (Nelson, 2007, p. 74) skills are supported by the AVID program in an effort to close the achievement gap and better prepare students for our global society.