Shoreline School District to extend AVID to Middle School

Sunday, June 7, 2015

By Marianne Deal Stephens

During its May 11 regular meeting, the Shoreline School Board heard an update about the district’s AVID program. Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) is a global program that has been in the Shoreline Schools for several years with dedicated AVID classrooms (one per grade) in the high schools. The first AVID cohort in Shoreline graduated in 2009. Recently, the district has begun expanding AVID strategies to the middle schools. Director of Teacher and Learning Teri Poff along with other district educators and guests presented data and firsthand accounts. 

AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. (See What is AVID?.) The nonprofit organization trains educators in the use of research-proven strategies in order to serve students, particularly those traditionally underrepresented in higher education. 

Director Poff presented demographic information about AVID in the district.

The charts depict information about the 2012 AVID cohort. In the same year, the general student population in the district was 55% white, 7% African American, 11% Hispanic/ Latino, and 27% other Races/ Ethnicities. 

The program seems to be gaining momentum. In 2010, 56% of Shoreline AVID graduates enrolled in college, in 2011, 62%, and in 2012, 72%. The last figure of 72% exceeded the 66% average percentage of U.S. high school graduates who enrolled in college in the same year. 

College persistence rates are also notable.

The 95% Shoreline AVID persistence rate for the second year of college compares favorably with a national first year overall persistence rate of 69.2% for the same year cohort. (NCS Research Center

Of the 2010 Shoreline AVID cohort, 30 students enrolled in various colleges.

Though the official numbers reflect 9 college graduates, the presenters noted that the actual figure is much higher, and they acknowledged the need to be more diligent in tracking statistics and verifying the status of Shoreline AVID graduates. 

Shorecrest and Seattle Pacific University graduate Carly Cressman spoke about how AVID helped build character and “gave her a badge” that enabled her to be confident in college. Ms. Cressman described how, for most SPU students, going to college was a given and they felt entitled to be there. Since AVID went well beyond a regular high school routine, Ms. Cressman was at least as, if not more, equipped for college than her peers. She earned her right to be there. 

Sarah Mondragon Flores, who graduated from both Shorecrest and the University of Washington, said that “AVID was an amazing, amazing course.” Before becoming a part of AVID, she was not thinking about college. AVID taught her that “we can learn and work hard together” and the experience gave her backbone along with tools for success in college. 

Because of the record of success in the high schools and the interest of the Kellogg and Einstein Middle School Principals, AVID has already expanded to the middle schools with teacher training and school-wide strategies.

Kellogg Principal Lisa Gonzales was an AVID teacher at Shorecrest and had both Ms. Cressman and Ms. Mondragon Flores in her graduating class in 2010. Einstein Principal Stephanie Clark has been implementing AVID-inspired strategies for several years. Her “look to the future” 8th grade field trips to the University of Washington and Shoreline Community College stem from her interest in setting up middle school students for post-high school success. 

In 2013 and 2014, a total of 33 Shoreline middle school teachers, 6 administrators, and 6 instructional specialists attended the AVID Summer Institute to learn about school-wide strategies. This summer, 19 more teachers and 3 administrators will attend. Einstein Math Teacher Garth Riley attended the Institute, and explained the use of interactive notebooks in his classes. The notebooks help students process what they are learning in class, and students keep them up since they have a vested interest. Mr. Riley explained that the notebook and AVID tools lead to effective student and life habits, and bring together staff in different departments with common goals and language.

Einstein Middle School will pilot an AVID elective in 2015-16 that will provide additional support for a select group of 32 8th grade students. Einstein Assistant Principal Nyla Fritz, who also has experience as an AVID teacher, reiterated the high college persistence rates of AVID students, and explained that the new middle school group will commit to a future in college.

As of October 2014, AVID programs operated in 70 districts at 246 sites in Washington State. With the addition of Einstein, that number is now at least 247 sites. No doubt the district and parents will follow this latest group to see if the AVID track record of success continues.

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