Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is an American college-readiness system designed to raise the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges, concentrating on students in the academic middle. The formula is to increase expectations of students. Originating at the high school level, the program now serves grades 4-12 (roughly, ages 9–18).
AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a program designed to provide the necessary support to students, particularly those in the academic middle, so that they can attend college and achieve their fullest potential. It also serves to level the playing field for minority and low-income students, as well as students who may be the first in their families to potentially attend college. The AVID program aims to support its students by teaching and reinforcing study and organizational skills (cornell note-taking, 3-ring binder with labeled dividers, etc.), motivating students to take more rigorous and challenging classes, providing skills necessary to succeed in college (public speaking, team building skills, interaction with professors, etc.), and ultimately preparing them for success at a four-year university/college. AVID students have skilled tutors, often college students studying to be teachers or studying one of the major subject areas, to aid them with their studies. Students are taken on field trips to local colleges and universities throughout the program to familiarize them with some options. The projects organized are rich in content, cooperative learning, and applications that simulate “the real world” after high school. Community service is advocated throughout the program; students are expected to be active members of their community. This program helps these students to excel and consider all of their options. Students are provided with the resources to help them apply for scholarships and grants and to colleges and universities of their interest. AVID is not a “remedial education” program but rather a program designed to give whatever support may be lacking for at-risk students who have academic potential, but who may not be working to the best of their abilities.
AVID was first developed in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, an English teacher at Clairemont High School, a recently desegregated district in San Diego, California. She began the program in order to make sure that underrepresented students were able to succeed in high school and would be properly prepared for the rigors of college.
Over the years the program has grown tremendously, and current AVID figures show that the program has branched out from the original one-school model, to serving almost 4,500 schools in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and 16 countries/territories. In addition, the AVID program serves more than 400,000 students in grades 4-12. Studies have also shown that the AVID program is working to increase the number of students prepared for college; Watt, Huerta, and Lozano (2007) found that AVID students had higher aspirations, college knowledge, and academic preparation when compared to their peers. In addition, Watt, Powell, Mendiola, and Cossio (2006) found that over the course of four years, AVID districts in Texas made significant gains in the areas of graduation rates, advanced course enrollments, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate testing.