East Lansing High School introduces new college preparatory program

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By Camille Douglas
Entirely East Lansing

Board meeting

East Lansing High School social studies and AVID elective teacher Bob Filter shows a presentation on the new AVID program at the Board of Education’s meeting Feb. 22.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – East Lansing High School social studies teacher Bob Filter showed a presentation on the school’s new program to help get more students ready for college during the Board of Education’s Feb. 22 meeting.

The program, known as AVID, stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It was enforced at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year to selected freshmen. Students participating in the program learn how to improve organizational, comprehensive and social skills, all while furthering their core education.

Currently, only a few classes of the high school are a part of the AVID program. Filter, who is also an AVID elective teacher and part of the AVID Site Team that is managing the program, would like to see AVID being used throughout the entire school.

“We are trying to make it a school-wide approach. We are trying to close the achievement gap for all students,” Filter said. “We are trying to create a culture of improvement in all of our classrooms.”

About $30,000 went into launching this program to fund resources to AVID teachers and students.

According to Filter, students are selected based on several criteria. Students must have a GPA within a 2.0-3.5, have average to high test scores and have the mindset to pursue a college degree. Students who particularly come from a low-income family or will be first-generation college students receive first priority. 

Info-graphic highlights some of the criteria and aspects of the AVID program that was presented at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 22.

Infographic highlights some of the criteria and aspects of the AVID program that was presented at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 22. Information provided by the East Lansing High School AVID Site Team. Graphic by Camille Douglas.

Students who are selected by AVID Site Team members and choose to participate in the program have a course schedule that consists of AVID-only classes, taught by trained AVID teachers. Like a typical class schedule, their course work includes core curriculum classes (English, math, science and social studies) and electives, but their classes are structured to following the AVID program.

Rather than switching teachers each semester, students stay with the same set of teachers year around. Each subject follows the same weekly schedule. For example, mondays and wednesdays are dedicated encompassing the AVID curriculum within the subject, which includes writing, strategies for success, and critical reading skills development.

Currently, Utica Stevenson, Utica High School, and West Bloomfield High School are the only other three high schools in the state of Michigan that have active AVID programs. The remainder of the Michigan AVID programs are in middle schools.

On March 3, East Lansing High School AVID  Site Team members will be traveling to Utica Stevenson High School to observe their program and talk to student participants as a way to improve the program for next year’s incoming freshmen.

“It’s all about making the kids determined and gaining better knowledge,” AVID Site Coordinator Nancy Artman said. “It has been a very interesting thing for East Lansing and to do something different than the other schools. We are unique in that way.”

There are seven AVID trained East Lansing High School faculty members, consisting of mainly teachers as well as counselors and coordinators.  The program has gained popularity since its launch in September. For the 2016-2015 school year, East Lansing High School is adding five more teachers to the program.

“We are adding staff members all the time,” Filter said. “The more people that we add through the program bring these ideas back to their departments. We want to make this a school-wide approach and not just have a couple of classes that follow the program.”

Superintendent Dr. Robyne Thompson, after seeing the success of the program in East Lansing High School and other school districts, is looking to start expanding the program into the middle schools in the future.

“AVID has certainly brought a new level of excitement [to the district] that we have not had for a long time,” Thompson said. “It is good for all kids. The training that they get is the best practices and it has over 30 years of research to show its academic success.”

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