11 Essentials For Maximum Impact on Student College Prep Success

By Mary Ryerse and Michelle Berkeley

AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) is a California-based and internationally implemented academic support program that helps typically underrepresented students succeed in challenging college prep courses and prepare for college.

AVID focuses on the successful implementation of 11 “essentials” (core to program effectiveness) in order to drive impact. AVID is implemented in over 6,000 schools, and it is no wonder why.

At its heart, AVID holds the philosophy that if students are held accountable to the highest standards and are provided academic and social support, they will rise to the challenge.

While many districts carve dollars out of annual budgets, others have benefited from the investment of philanthropy dollars. For example, to address issues of equity and access and to help more low-income students graduate high school “college-ready,” College Spark Washington (CSW) invested $9.5 million to fund a nine-year College Readiness Initiative (CRI). AVID was one of two programs selected to help CSW achieve their goals.


AVID Logo.jpg

Goal: To close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.                                        

What: A middle school through postsecondary college readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll and succeed in higher education and in their lives beyond high school.

Where: Implemented in approximately 6,200 schools in 46 states, Washington, D.C., along with 16 countries/territories outside the United States.

How: AVID transforms the instruction, systems, leadership, and culture of an entire school by having students enroll in the AVID Elective class taught by trained AVID teachers. To ensure college readiness and improved academic performance, AVID Elective teachers provide academic training, manage tutorials, work with faculty and parents, and assist students in developing long-range academic and personal plans. Subject-area teachers, counselors, administrators and district administrators experience professional learning and help create a college-going culture through participation in the AVID Elective and use of AVID methodologies school-wide.


AVID Center identified 11 essential characteristics of AVID Secondary implementation essential for maximum impact on student success. These 11 AVID Essentials are:

11 Essentials Description
Student Selection AVID student selection must focus on students in the middle, with academic potential, who would benefit from AVID support to improve their academic record and begin college preparation.
Voluntary Participation by Students and Staff AVID program participants, both students and staff, must choose to participate in the AVID program.
AVID Elective During the School Day The school must be committed to full implementation of AVID, with students enrolled in the AVID year-long Elective class(es) available within the regular academic school day.
Enrolling in Rigorous Curriculum AVID students must be enrolled in a rigorous course of study that will enable them to meet requirements for university enrollment.
Reading and Writing Curriculum A strong, relevant writing and reading curriculum provides a basis for instruction in the AVID Elective class.
Inquiry Emphasis Instructional strategies are taught in the AVID Elective class to develop students’ inquiry-based strategies and critical thinking skills.
Collaboration Collaborative learning is used as a basis for instruction in the classroom and teachers are collaborating across classrooms.
Trained Tutors A sufficient number of tutors must be available in the AVID Elective class(es) to facilitate student access to rigorous curriculum. Tutors should be students enrolled in colleges and universities, who can mentor students and facilitate tutorials, and they must be trained to implement the methodologies used in AVID.
Data Collection and Analysis AVID program implementation and student progress must be monitored through the AVID Center Data System, and results must be analyzed to ensure success.
School and District Resources Committed The school or district has identified resources for program costs, has agreed to implement all AVID Essentials and to participate in AVID Certification. It has committed to ongoing participation in AVID professional learning.
Active Interdisciplinary Site Team An active, interdisciplinary AVID site team collaborates on issues of student access to and success in rigorous college preparatory courses.


According to AVID data, of the 42,418 AVID high school seniors reporting data in 2016:

  • 98% graduated high school on time
  • 94% had plans to attend a postsecondary institution
  • 93% completed 4-year college entrance requirements, and
  • 63% planned to attend a four-year college.

CSW logo.png

Specific to the College Spark Washington Initiative, student impact can be seen in many areas, including the following:

  • More positive perceptions regarding school.
  • Improvement in student college-going, persistence and completion rates.
  • Significant gains in course taking patterns and transcript readiness.

Further, leaders rave about the effectiveness. Principal Todd Setterlund of Burlington Edison High School said, “Our AVID teachers are committed, willing to take risks and focused on building relationships and rapport with their students.”

Recognized across the state and beyond, former Tacoma School District leader Erin Jones said, “I don’t think every individual student needs to be in an AVID elective, but if I could have AVID in every building available to kids I would do it.”

These examples of leadership engagement are a demonstration of the AVID essentials at play. When all 11 essentials work in harmony, AVID positively impacts entire school cultures and the overall readiness of students.

For more, see:

This post is a part of a blog, infographic and paper series focused on college, career and life readiness that is produced in partnership with College Spark Washington (@CollegeSparkWA). Join the conversation on Twitter using #EdLeaders, #CollegeReadiness or #CollegeandCareer.

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures please see our Partner page.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.