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Archive | Post-Secondary Success

AVID: Jump-start To College


By Avani Chhaya

More than 4,500 students across all grade levels are provided with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) services in Austin ISD. AVID is a national program that the district implements to increase post-secondary readiness and to create a college-going culture among some elementary, middle school and high school students. The foundation of the program is around WICOR, writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading. The goal of AVID is to have students succeed and graduate from college, yet this is not a district-wide program.

At the national level, 72 percent of AVID seniors in 2015 enrolled in either a two-year or a four-year college after high school compared with 69 percent of seniors in the United States. From Fall 2015 to Fall 2016, 85 percent of AVID graduates continued into the second year of college compared with 78 percent of students in the country.

At the elementary level in Austin ISD, AVID is built on the same learning foundation as the program at the secondary level. With a focus on the early grades, AVID is designed to embed daily instruction in classrooms across all grade levels, providing students and teachers with common language for particular skills. This program leaves elementary teams with flexibility around setting goals and implementing initiatives. According to the Multi-Year Report of AVID Elementary Site Data, there are 66 AVID elementary classrooms with the majority of trained teachers at the 3rd through 5th grade level.

AVID Elementary Students By Grade in 2017

Source: AVID Data from Austin ISD

Grade Number of Students in Each Grade
Kindergarten: 33
1st Grade: 23
2nd Grade: 64
3rd Grade: 350
4th Grade: 539
5th Grade: 500
Total Number of Students: 1,509 Students


At the middle and high school level, there is an AVID teacher at each participating AVID school, possibly with more than one instructor. College-level tutors come in twice a week at the secondary level to host tight-knit socratic seminars, taking a student’s question and dissecting it in an open discussion during the AVID Elective.

Bedichek Middle School, an AVID national demonstration school, has an application-based method for students to participate in this elective program. AVID is implemented school-wide with all content teachers implementing WICOR strategies in their lessons. Eligible students are in the 75th to 95th academic percentile, understanding the workload and demands of this program and are eager for resources to help them on their path to college. With 18 sections of the AVID elective and three full-time elective teachers at this campus, this program at Bedichek serves 340 students out of its total student population of 883 students.

Main Takeaways from 2016-2017 AVID Secondary Data* | Source: AVID Data from Austin ISD

  • The average number of AVID middle school students per school is 106
  • The average number of AVID high school students per school is 166
  • 77 percent of AVID students are Hispanic or Latino, 11 percent of AVID students are Black or African American, 8 percent of AVID students are White and 2 percent of AVID students are Asian
  • There are 170 AVID elective sections
  • 13 percent of AVID 9th-12th gradeers are taking a college course for college credit

*Secondary data above includes both middle school and high school students

At the high school level, students are recruited into the AVID program through multiple pathways: through their middle schools, through their teachers identifying eligible students in high school classes and through school-wide events. The AVID curriculum has a specific focus on test preparation, college admission and marketable skills at the high school level. At 10 AVID high schools in the district, seniors can opt into a program through the AVID center to be tracked for the next four years after high school, in order to measure the impact of AVID services on students. Despite AVID starting in Austin ISD in the 1999-2000 school year, the district is not at the 100 percent benchmark of AVID seniors applying to a four-year or two-year college.

AVID Senior Data for Austin ISD* in 2016-2017

Source: AVID Data from Austin ISD

Applied to a four-year college: 89.4%
Planned to attend a four-year college: 57%
Accepted to a four-year college: 77%
Planned to attend a two-year college: 35.1%
Will be attending tech school or the military: 0.4%
Took SAT & ACT: 72.5%
Taking College Courses / Dual-Enrollment: 46%

*10 high schools and 265 AVID seniors are represented in the data above

Do you have a curriculum? Do you have socratic style tutorials? Who has access to AVID?
Elementary Everyone – all elementary students are in AVID
Secondary* Elective – secondary students must select this elective

*Secondary encompasses middle and high school

SAT & ACT: Paving the Post-Secondary Path in Austin ISD

By Avani Chhaya

AISD lags behind other large districts but exceeds the state in number of students taking SAT / ACT

Austin ISD has a lower rate of high school students taking the SAT and ACT compared to other large school districts in Texas, as of the most recent data available. In the class of 2016, about 74 percent of students took the standardized tests, according to the Texas Education Agency. The SAT and ACT, entrance exams for many universities, are meant to inform college-readiness.

By Avani Chhaya

*The report did not include data for Dallas ISD in 2015.

Numbers are rounded

Gatekeepers to four-year college admission

With most four-year universities still requiring these standardized test scores, the SAT and ACT are traditionally considered to be gatekeepers to acceptance to four-year colleges and universities, limiting students’ options beyond high school for those who do not take these exams.

For those Texas high school seniors looking at freshman admission to an in-state college next fall, 13 Texas universities made the list of 1,250 best global universities featured in U.S. News & World Report. All 13 universities from this list require freshman students to take either the SAT or ACT, in order to apply to the undergraduate program. Without taking one of these standardized tests, a high school applicant will not be considered in the admissions pool for the upcoming school year.

It is important to note that incoming college students can take the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) assessment instead of the SAT and ACT, if they are planning on attending college in Texas. This standardized test determines college-readiness in reading, writing, and math. Not all students, however, need to take the TSI test. A few of the exemptions include students meeting the SAT and ACT requirements or completing college-level English and math courses.

Rank & SAT/ACT Requirements for Texas Undergraduate Universities

Rank University SAT ACT
32 The University of Texas at Austin
81 Rice University
118 Texas A&M University
234 University of Texas at Dallas
341 Baylor University
382 University of Houston
448 University of Texas at San Antonio
462 University of Texas at Arlington
466 Southern Methodist University*
487 Texas Tech University
627 University of North Texas
907 University of Texas at El Paso
1233 Texas State University

Source: 2017 U.S. News & World Report

*These schools listed above require either the SAT or ACT scores to be submitted.

*Southern Methodist University does not require music, theatre, dance, art or film applicants to submit test scores.

College graduates exhibit better outcomes

According to The College Board, college graduates are more likely to earn more money, lead healthier lifestyles, volunteer and vote compared to their counterparts who have only graduated from high school. Taking the SAT or ACT is one of the steps high school students can take to advance their futures and jumpstart their careers.

A barrier to advancing your future may be the cost of these exams. The SAT costs $46 and $60 with the essay section, while the ACT costs $46 and $62.50 with the writing portion. You can apply for a SAT fee waiver or an ACT fee waiver if you meet certain eligibility requirements, including enrollment in a free or reduced lunch program or if your family falls within a specified income range.

To remove one of the biggest hurdles to students applying to a four-year university, school districts can offer free, in-school SAT or ACT exam sessions. By both picking up the cost and mandating these assessments, school districts can increase the number of students, particularly those who come from low-income backgrounds, going to college, as reported in Education Week. In the 2014-2015 school year, Dallas Independent School District administered the SAT for 11th graders and the ACT for 12th graders during the school day and covered the cost on behalf of their students. As a result, 100 percent of students in that district took the SAT and ACT in 2016, increasing the chances of those students enrolling in an institution of higher education. According to Dallas ISD, testing during the school day allows students to continue meeting family and job responsibilities on the weekend and does not require additional transportation for testing. In Houston ISD, juniors are able to take the SAT during a school day for free, an initiative started in 2010. According to a HISD News Blog post, there is a significant increase in the number of students taking the SAT from 4,920 students in 2010 to 9,480 students in 2012. In addition to the overall participation, Houston ISD reports an increase in students from specific racial and ethnic populations taking the SAT compared to previous years. There was a 76 percent increase in African-American students, a 134 percent increase in Hispanic students, a 32 percent increase in White students, and an 18 percent increase in Asian-American students taking the SAT exam in Houston ISD.

Austin ISD, however, does not cover the cost of the SAT or ACT exams for juniors or seniors. Offering free sessions of these college-entrance exams will increase the percent of students taking these exams and increase the likelihood of students directly enrolling in a four-year university, paving the path for a brighter and better future.

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