AVID Program Encourages College Readiness For TSD Students

Thompson School District is proud to host the AVID program at three of its schools, offering students a unique opportunity to hone their academic skills and prepare for college. The AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a college readiness program that supports students in the academic middle who are college bound. At Thompson Valley High School, the AVID program comes in the form of an elective class that select students take all four years, with the same teacher and the same cohort of students. Thompson Valley High School is in the process of attaining full certification, which means that the entire building and all staff members are using strategies which benefit all students. This is also known as “AVID School Wide.”

The AVID curriculum focuses on the hard and soft skills that students need to be fully competitive for college. This includes organizational, time management, note taking and study skills. The curriculum is framed around WICOR (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading), where students learn how to develop each skill at a deeper level as they move toward graduation and their first year of college. On a typical day, AVID students can be observed using deep reading strategies to understand a news article, and then using evidence from the article to engage in a Socratic Seminar. This class discussion can then lead to students developing their own prompt for an essay writing assignment.

CSU

Through partnerships with Front Range Community College and Colorado State University, students engage in tutoring twice a week with actual college students. During this tutoring time, both the college students and AVID students use Socratic questioning methods to address their points of confusion. This allows students to develop their inquiry skills and it teaches them to solve their academic problems by trying different methods until they figure out the issue, rather than someone simply giving them the answer.

All AVID students are required to take advanced classes, which include pre-Advanced Placement, Advanced Placement or classes at Aims and Front Range community colleges through our concurrent enrollment and pathways programs. Research shows that students who take AP or college classes in high school perform better their freshman year of college. Currently, 100% of returning AVID students are meeting this goal.

Freshman year students are supported as they transition from middle school and the focus of the year is first on developing their organization and time management skills. Then students start to deepen their reading, writing, inquiry and collaboration skills through tutorials, essays, short readings and class discussions.

Starting in their sophomore year, AVID students begin test preparation for both the PSAT and the SAT. During class time, AVID students are getting 15-20 hours of SAT preparation. Through practice tests, learning test taking strategies and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, AVID students are familiar and ready for the full SAT test.

Junior year students continue to deepen their WICOR skills as they continue preparing for the SAT and it’s in this year that students start working closer to the college level through AP and college classes. Students also complete an in-depth essay unit in which they conduct research at the college level and turn in a paper using requirements similar to that of an introductory English class at any university.

Senior year AVID students receive a large amount of support and class time to apply to college and apply for financial aid or scholarships. This supports the purpose of the program, which seeks to prepare students for college and not just get them to finish high school. Our entire senior class has already applied to multiple colleges and universities and at least ten scholarships.

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AVID school-wide shares strategies and resources with the whole school to support organization and good instructional practices with all students.

The AVID program at Walt Clark Middle School looks very similar to the one at Thompson Valley, in that all students are exposed to the best strategies, with a select number of students enrolled in the AVID elective class.

In order to be a part of the AVID program, students must meet eligibility requirements that include GPA, attendance, individual determination and the completion of a short application. The ideal AVID candidate has a 2.0-3.5 GPA, regular attendance and a desire to go to college.

At Sarah Milner Elementary School, the fourth and fifth grade students participate in the AVID elementary program, which infuses their curriculum with a variety of AVID methods throughout the school day instead of having a separate AVID class.

The AVID program provides students at all levels with access to resources, strategies, and opportunities to become the best students that they can be. AVID becomes like a family, offering students in the academic middle the support and skills that they need to not only survive, but also thrive in college.

By Laura Light-Kovacs, 

Thompson Valley High School, AVID Coordinator / Social Studies Teacher

CU Boulder

Learn more about the schools who offer AVID:

Thompson Valley High School 

Walt Clark Middle School

Sarah Milner Elementary School 

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