The Role of Leaders in AVID Schools and the Impact on Student Achievement
Noone, Colleen Callahan
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The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program is designed to provide resources and strategies to enable underrepresented minority students to attend four-year colleges. Research indicates that the success of the students enrolled in AVID depends on the strict adherence to the AVID components. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the principal and administrator's understanding of, commitment to and involvement in AVID accounted for the difference in student achievement between a successful school and one that is not. AVID is a program with demonstrated results, however it is costly. Building principals have to be willing to use a teaching position to staff the AVID coordinator/teacher position, and school districts have to employ tutors for the twice-weekly tutorial sessions. In these difficult fiscal times, districts are looking for places to make adjustments. AVID's demonstrated effectiveness for students in an individual building, as well as district-wide, will be the key to keeping AVID from falling subject to budget cuts. Some of AVID's 11 essentials are instructionally based, such as Cornell Notes and WICR, which directly impact what occurs within the walls of the classroom. Others are more leadership-based, such as staffing and policies for student selection. Yet a third set consists of things which are not actually essentials or may be less tangible, but still have a great impact on AVID, such as the perception of AVID students by peers, the perception of AVID students by the school community in general, and the understanding and oversight of the program within the building. This study focused on the essentials that are leadership based as well as those which are less tangible. It is essential to know what factors in a school make AVID implementation meet with the greatest success. A comparative case study methodology was used. The study used Grade Point Averages to determine two focus schools, and then interviews with principals and AVID administrators was conducted and analyzed. This study demonstrated that the key person in any site is the administrator who directly oversees the program. This individual must be thoroughly trained in all aspects of AVID so that program essentials can by implemented according to AVID guidelines and decisions regarding student success are based on accurate information. Assessment of program implementation is a multi-level process. In order to get an accurate picture of a program implemented in multiple schools, it is essential to first be sure that implementation is uniform within a specific building. Schools that have more than one teacher implementing a program must be monitored to be sure that there is a uniform practice within the building. Those involved with program oversight need to start there, especially if grades are being used as a basis of comparison.
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