New elective promotes college readiness

   A new elective being implemented in the Sparta Area School District is an effort to close the achievement gap and prepare students for post-secondary education.
   Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) was developed in 1980 by California high school English teacher Mary Ellen Swanson. She developed AVID to help all students succeed in rigorous English classes.
   AVID has since been incorporated as elective classes in thousands of schools across the country.
   “Beginning with one high school and 32 students, AVID now impacts more than 800,000 students in nearly 5,000 schools and 43 postsecondary institutions in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and across 16 other countries/territories. The AVID College Readiness System spans elementary through higher education,” according to AVID.org.
   The AVID program was implemented in Sparta Area Schools thanks to a $750,000 Department of Defense grant awarded last fall. The grant supports professional development of teachers in disciplinary literacy, professional learning communities and in-class support, based on AVID strategies.
   According to its mission statement, “AVID closes the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.”
   The program will be implemented in fourth, sixth and ninth grades this year, indicated Wendy Bernett, the district’s AVID secondary district director. Fifth, seventh and 10th grades will be added next year, and it will continue from there, she indicated.
   Bernett, also a high school English teacher, will facilitate AVID programming at the middle and high school, while Meadowview Intermediate School Principal Mike Roddick will implement them at the intermediate school.
   “It’s a system to help kids who want to have post secondary plans but need support to get there,” she explained. “AVID is aimed at kids in the middle half of their class that need a little support.”
   AVID classes are electives that will be offered for the next school year. The classes will be taught by existing teachers who expressed a desire to do so.
   The classes will help teach organization and time management as well as note taking and study skills.
   Bernett, who recently attended AVID training in San Diego, said the achievement gap disappears once kids go through AVID programming.
   AVID was introduced to parents last Thursday during the freshman transition meeting at the high school, and will be introduced to eighth grade students visiting the high school for the freshman transition day this week.
   More information about AVID will be offered at upcoming girls basketball and boys basketball games and a wrestling match.
   Bernett summed up AVID’s importance. “It’s important for kids who want to go to college to be able to do so and be successful when they get there.”

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