Getting Smart Podcast | AVID: An Integrated Approach to College Readiness

More than 40,000 students–mostly low-income minorities–graduate each year ready for postsecondary learning and careers thanks to high schools that partner with the Advancement Via Individual Determination organization, better known as AVID. The San Diego nonprofit supports a comprehensive college readiness system that benefits 1.5 million students in over 6,000 schools located in 46 states and 16 other countries.

In this episode of the podcast, I spoke with Sandy Husk, CEO of AVID, about how it all began, how she joined this team and what they’re doing today to help students prepare for college success.

Podcast Highlights

The AVID system, first developed by high school teacher Mary Catherine Swanson in 1980, includes instructional training, academic tutoring and a college guidance course. Initially targeting students not likely to attend college, it is increasingly used campus wide.

“AVID is a college and career ready system that starts with professional learning,” said CEO Sandy Husk. Central to the success of the AVID system is instructional improvement focused on writing to learn, inquiry, collaboration, organizational skills and critical reading (WICOR).

“It’s not only reading, writing and critical thinking, it’s organization, learning how to frame a debate and the Socratic method,” added Husk.

Perhaps most importantly, AVID helps to create a college-going culture in schools. “When teachers are engaged, owning common practices and beliefs, trained by colleagues, it changes the culture,” said Husk. She sees AVID developing pride in educators and its powerful impact on children and families.

Member schools stay up to date with AVID Weekly, local and regional trainings, summer institutes and a national conference in December.

AVID students, despite coming from predominantly non-college going cultures, graduate from high school, enroll in and persist in college at greater than the national average.

As a school superintendent, Sandy Husk had the opportunity to implement AVID with success in three states. During that time she observed two keys to readiness–the importance of teacher relationships and systems that demand equitable access for all students to a college and career ready curriculum.

The AVID team is converting what was a paper-based system to digital e-binders in partnership with Microsoft. They continue to search for ways to serve more students by helping schools expand support schoolwide. “We’re always focused on reaching more students,” said Husk.

This podcast is part of a college and career readiness series produced in partnership with College Spark Washington (@CollegeSparkWA). Join the conversation on Twitter using #CollegeReady or #RedefiningReady.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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