(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

This article is presented in partnership with CA Lottery.


The first step to academic success is determination, but for many kids, giving their all will still not be enough. Many students require fine-tuned support in order to go from achieving mid-level grades to accessing high-level successes in school. In California, 1,411 public schools are helping kids close the achievement gap through the support of a non-profit program called AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination. One of them is Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica.


Who Are AVID Kids?

Some AVID kids are English language learners and others simply need additional one-on-one time with educators, but all of them are willing to succeed and work hard. They have good attendance records and GPAs in the middle range – typically from 2.0 to 3.5. AVID kids are also willing to enroll in at least one year-long elective class, participate in a rigorous course of study and hold themselves accountable to the highest standards possible. They see themselves on the college track and are willing to go the distance to get there.


Who Are AVID Teachers?

At its heart, AVID is a professional learning organization, providing teacher training geared towards student success. By using data-driven teaching strategies aligned with Common Core Standards, AVID trains educators in methodologies for developing students’ critical thinking, literacy and acuity in math. At Lincoln, the AVID Site Team meets monthly to assess the program’s efficiency and to enhance programming through enrichment events, guest speaker classroom events and necessary supports for AVID elective teachers.


Why Does It Work?

The combination of motivated students and educators is a heady one. Kids in the AVID program are provided with positive, peer-to-peer support, as well as a sturdy and rigorous classroom environment. Both the skills and behaviors required for success are taught, creating a long-term modality for lifetime achievement. Intensive tutoring is coupled with strong, teacher-student bonds, creating the you-can-do-it atmosphere so necessary for hard work to yield powerful results. The end-product is elevated grades and a huge feeling of energy and satisfaction, among both students and their educators.


Next Stop, High School

It’s amazing what can happen when someone believes in you and knows how to give you the tools you need. Caught in the middle no longer, AVID kids at Lincoln Middle School are given a chance to become all they can be and function as tomorrow’s leaders. After graduating, they go on to high school and may remain within the AVID program. Well-prepared for 21st century careers, many will attend prestigious four-year universities, go on for advanced degrees and find their niche in fields as diverse as engineering or the non-profit sector. Once considered average, they are now poised for success, life fulfillment and, for some, greatness.


Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.