published: Friday, March 15, 2013
College and career readiness for all students: an innovative approach to success
Special to the News-Sun
SAN DIEGO - In
Supported in the grant are Hardee Junior High and Hardee Senior High School in Hardee County; Avon Park Middle School, Avon Park High School, Lake Placid Middle School and Lake Placid High in Highlands County, and DeSoto Middle School and DeSoto High School in DeSoto County. The grant also partners with South Florida State College to demonstrate the hypothesis that a collaborative of secondary and postsecondary institutions serving a rural area that vertically integrates college readiness best practices, access to rigorous coursework and student support strategies, can significantly improve student achievement and success.
The Heartland Educational Consortium serves as a partner in this grant as well, providing support and training for the three districts involved.
The schools were selected because of the commitment and willingness from district and school leadership to implement the proven AVID system and work with professors from South Florida State College (SFSC). The districts have high poverty student populations and struggle with a lack of funds for innovation. Nearly half of the educators in each school will receive AVID training, with approximately 125 educators attending an AVID Summer Institute in the next three years. Approximately 60 professors from SFSC will also attend a Summer Institute to enhance the vertical teaming component of the grant.
Looking forward to learning more about and experiencing AVID, Hardee Senior High School Principal Michele Polk said, "The more I learn about the AVID system, the more enthusiastic I become. Having spoken with principals who have already implemented AVID in their schools, which face many of the same challenges as HSHS, it is clear to me that our students can greatly benefit from the instruction and opportunities AVID will provide."
The AVID college readiness system is designed to give students options when they graduate from high school. AVID targets students in the academic middle who have college potential with support and equips them with the skills necessary to be successful in more rigorous coursework. AVID supports every student in the school by training teachers to use innovative strategies to increase understanding of difficult material and become more engaged in their learning.
Soon, the selection process for the AVID elective will begin. Students will be selected based on specific criteria as well as teacher recommendations. Students who are placed in the AVID elective will receive training in specific skills, which will help them to be critical thinkers, be organized students, and have success in honors and advanced courses. The AVID students will also have tutorials twice weekly during school the school day, which are conducted by college students trained to guide students to find the answers on their own. The AVID students will also have the opportunity to tour college campuses and hear from community leaders about different career path opportunities.
Nelson Stephenson, DeSoto Middle School principal, agreed, "At DeSoto Middle School, we are confident that implementing the AVID program will help us build a strong foundation for making positive connections with our students. We believe that pairing the rigor with the AVID focus on academic and emotional support will be key to making long-term significant positive impact for all of our students."
The grant will serve these schools for five years and intends to increase both the number of students who are college ready and the number of students who persist in college, as well as improve the teaching and learning at each of the eight schools. The grant will also provide opportunities for teachers and professors to work collaboratively within subject areas to create consistency in the ways information is presented at all levels. With AVID's schoolwide college readiness focus, teachers throughout the schools will be using innovative strategies to help students become critical thinkers so that regardless of their future endeavors, they will be successful.
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