Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Escaping 'Average'"

The article entitled "Escaping 'Average': Innovative Programs Make the Case That High-Level Classes Aren't Just for the Gifted" written by Jay Mathews for the Washington Post on Tuesday, November 28, 2006, used AVID as a strong example. Jay Mathews has been a long-time supporter and admirer of AVID. Here are some excerpts from the article:

"The largest effort to prepare average students for high-level courses is led by a San Diego-based nonprofit organization called AVID, for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It was started in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, a high school English teacher who was dissatisfied with how average students were treated at her suburban San Diego school, particularly those who were minorities. Swanson retired this year with the program operating in 2,716 schools in 39 states, including Virginia and Maryland, and in the District.

"Fairfax County has AVID in 14 schools, more than any other school system in the region. It uses study skills classes to prepare students for one of the nation's strongest college-level programs. 'Average students who are put into higher-level classes without support is a recipe for disaster,' said Derek E. Steele, who heads the county's AVID program. 'Our program helps students recognize they are not average, but they have to develop certain skills to prove that to others.'

"AVID looks for students with C to B-plus grades and average to high test scores who are from low-income or minority families or who would be the first in their families to attend college. Carol L. Robinson, principal of Twain Middle School in Fairfax, said teachers refer students to the program, which starts in sixth grade and continues into high school.

"Robinson said teachers look for 'students with a lot of potential but who need an additional push.' She cited several Twain students who were not initially recommended to take algebra but were enrolled in the course anyway, with the AVID teacher and tutors helping them adjust to the tougher math.

"'Every one of those students did well,' Robinson said. They all passed state tests."

Correction to This Article: A Nov. 28 article incorrectly said that the Fairfax County school system leads the region with 14 facilities that offer the Advancement via Individual Determination program. Anne Arundel County (MD) has 31 schools offering AVID.

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