Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Dr. Daniel Oldham recalls occasions when has asked students to raise their hands if they want to go to college.
“Then we ask if they know what is takes to get to college, and they don’t always know how to make that happen,” said Dr. Oldham.
According to AVID, schools are full of students who possess a desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard, but many of them do not truly have the opportunity to be college-ready. These are often the students who will be the first in their families to attend college and are from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
Cohorts of middle and high school students embarked on their journey toward college success when they applied last spring to the AVID program that is starting this fall.
Dr. Oldham explained that the selection process involved identifying students who would benefit from the program: students who have motivation, are goal-oriented, and have high-level abilities yet may not have all of the supports in place and need the tools to succeed on a path to college and career success. The application process repeats annually and is open to anyone – even if they are not approached as a potential candidate.
“There is a higher level of rigor and accountability for AVID students,” reminded Dr. Oldham.
Thomasville High School AVID site coordinator and teacher Janet Cable listed activities such as teaching the students to set realistic goals, reflecting on tasks in a Weekly Learning Log, and reading research about the amount of time and repeated exposure to a topic that is necessary to retain information.
“It’s not a college awareness program; it’s a college readiness program,” said Cable.
Cable has already instituted weekly inspirational speakers who discuss their college experiences in hopes that the students will not just get to college, they will stay there and succeed.
MacIntyre Park Middle School site coordinator and teacher Tiquilla Futch said that AVID goes beyond being a typical study skills program and promotes a ‘college-going culture.’
“It helps students look beyond obstacles they may have in their lives at home or academic challenges they face at school and lets them know that going to college and graduating college is an option no matter your challenges,” said Futch.
Dr. Oldham said that it’s a learning culture – not a program that is taught and then left behind and that AVID should infuse into all students in all the schools.
“We want our students to learn how to learn and to have a love of learning, to rethink through how to find their own answers, and to understand how to study and problem solve,” said Dr. Oldham.
Beyond the direct-instruction AVID elective class teachers, 25 Thomasville City Schools teachers and administrators were trained at the summer institute so that the core of the AVID program, which is truly based on good teaching practices, will mesh with what they’re already doing – such as organized note-taking, reading informational text, and higher-level collaboration and inquiry.
The entire faculty of MPMS, 5th grade teachers at Harper Elementary, and a group of teachers from THS were formally trained. AVID-trained teachers are sprinkled throughout the academic classrooms where AVID techniques are shared and used by all students. Thomasville City Schools’ faculty in its entirety spent time during pre-planning discussing the AVID philosophy that fosters a growth mindset and how all students can succeed when they leave behind a fixed mindset about their futures.
AVID is closing the opportunity gap in college graduation rates among diverse and underrepresented demographic groups. With AVID, teachers inspire students to take control over their own learning.