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Riding successes, AVID program to expand to District 833 elementary schools

Schyler Wood, who graduated from Park High School this spring, tells District 833 School Board members how the AVID program helped her academically as well as personally. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

Earlier in Schyler Wood’s Park High School career, she was projected to score a 17 out of 36 on her ACT standardized college entrance test.

Wood graduated this spring from Park after four years in the AVID program, which helps students with college and career readiness.

Now she’s headed to college after scoring a 30 on her ACT, which is well above average.

“I always really had the drive,” Wood said. “It was the AVID program that kind of brought it out for me.”

The Park graduate was among AVID success stories highlighted during a recent South Washington County School Board discussion of the program, now wrapping up its fifth year. AVID, which was first launched at Oltman Middle School and Park High School, will expand this fall to include curriculum principles at every elementary school. It already is offered at all middle schools and high schools.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is geared toward students in the so-called “academic middle” who have potential for college but would benefit from the program’s focus on skills such as organization and note-taking.

Park graduated 26 students in the AVID program this year. All of them took the ACT at least once and were accepted into a post-secondary institution. Nearly all students are headed to four-year universities. Additionally, all of Park’s AVID students took at least one advanced placement or International Baccalaureate class.

Dana Larson, a Park AVID coordinator and teacher, noted that the program’s goal is not only college acceptance, but success in college without the need for remediation.

At Woodbury High School, staff this year wanted to know whether AVID students are growing academically and how their growth compared to the general student population.

AVID students saw growth in English and science when comparing results from an ACT-prep exam and the ACT scores, said Lisa Hyland, Woodbury High School’s AVID coordinator. Also, juniors enrolled in the AVID program showed larger gains in English, math and science when compared to all students.

College readiness gains were even larger among black students in the AVID program.

“AVID is having a direct and significant impact on the achievement gap,” Hyland said.

East Ridge AVID student Jackie Lu took two honors classes and an advanced placement class as a freshman.

“Let’s just say (advanced placement) is a lot harder than I expected, but AVID has taught me how to be organized and take notes in class,” Lu said.

AVID principles will be used at schools throughout District 833 beginning this fall. All elementary schools will incorporate some AVID strategies, such as note-taking skills, into grades 4 and 5, said Keith Ryskoski, who as assistant superintendent oversaw the District 833 AVID program.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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