In the last post, the topic of Institutional Agents was discussed as part of the protective factors that help build the academic resiliency of students to be successful in school. This academic resiliency has been found to be critical in the achievement of traditionally underserved youth and their ability to attend and succeed in college.
Much of this blog has captured actual student voice as the driving factor in the messages shared. This post is no different, and highlights two powerful words shared by a 17 year old, low-income, university-bound, Latina student. Those words: Endless Possibilities. And what gave her such hope? What did she credit such a grand compliment to? The answer = AVID -- the critical cog through middle and high school that got her to where she needed to be.
AVID stands for "Advancement Via Individual Determination." But more than a fancy acronym, I found in my research with high-achieving, low-income, Latino students that AVID was the most commonly referenced institutional agent by the students. One of these students explained AVID as “a program that helps students not only gain the necessary skills to be successful in college, but it also helps first generation students learn how to go through the college application.” Much of the rest of this post is dedicated to different student voices in regards to AVID.
According to the students, AVID taught them good note-taking and organizational skills and that it also taught them about how to prepare for and apply to college, including accessing financial aid opportunities. One student who joined AVID late in high school did so for the college support aspect. She stated, “I’m the first generation and I really don’t know anything about college, transcripts, admissions and everything.” The student’s friends who were in AVID encouraged her to join because “you might really need help in the whole scholarship process, information about admissions and the college experiences.” Re-emphasizing the importance many of the students placed on the AVID program, one student stated, “I don’t think I would have gone to college if the AVID teachers wouldn’t have pushed me to the right track for a four-year program because no one in my family went to college.”
In the same vein, another student reported about her AVID experience that, “People say sometimes it’s not worth it. But I think it’s worth it.” She indicated that the AVID teacher had found “all these scholarships. She’s on top of you so you get your deadlines in, and that’s just been pretty cool.” Another student stated that AVID “motivates you to go to college,” while another student explained that AVID is not just about preparing to apply, but understanding how college works. He commented that AVID “made me come to reality because I was thinking of maybe going to all these different colleges, then the teachers said, you have to look at tuition and see what programs they offer.” This insight helped him to narrow the selections of colleges.
In addition to the college assistance aspect of AVID, another student commented that, having been in AVID since sixth grade, what he most enjoyed was the tutorial support. He stated that in the tutorials “you ask a question on a certain topic you’re not comfortable with and as a group, you try to solve it.” Another student shared that in AVID, the teachers help to “basically plan out your 4 years.”
This is how one AP teacher summarized the impact of AVID on Latino students in her classes: “I’ve been amazed at how dedicated to, and maybe even reliant, on the programs such as AVID that the students are. It has been important to the Latino students who have been successful in my class.”
A final student statement was hopeful of the future because of AVID: “I tell people, AVID doesn’t really change who you are, but what you will become . . . I think that’s amazing.” The student finished her thought with AVID directs “you in what you’re going to do, and gives you, like, endless possibilities, I just think that’s amazing.”
Another student who had to drop AVID because of her schedule stated that the note-taking and organizational strategies taught in AVID were still being utilized and that the greatest benefit from having been in the program was “it helped most with college information . . . the stuff I do know about college was because I was in AVID.”
So - what practical steps can schools take to help? Offer AVID. Funnel kids into AVID. Appreciate AVID and its teachers for the "endless possibilities" that can exist for students who may otherwise not have that opportunity. We need to have high expectations for students, and AVID is a way in which we help communicate those expectations to students - for their own futures - while remembering that most traditionally underserved youth do not decide in high school that they want to be successful in school - most decide and act on that in middle school. Which may be haunting when hearing quick clips of these two students who indicated that they had wanted to be in AVID in middle school but they believed they were not allowed to take it because they were not "selected." One student, who eventually enrolled in AVID in high school stated, “I remember I really wanted to be in the program in seventh grade but I didn’t get in because I guess they chose the people.” Another student recounted a recent conversation with friends who had been in AVID since middle school and asked them “How come I was never invited” to join AVID in middle school.
Powerful reminders as schools across the nation go into their scheduling cycles for next year... What endless possibilities exist, and for whom, where you work?
"Critical Resilience" This work is dedicated to the equal and fair education of all children, locally and globally.