Another part of that push is a national college readiness program called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID.
AVID now has an impact on more than 700,000 students in more than 4,900 schools and 28 postsecondary institutions in 46 states, the District of Columbia and across 16 other counties/territories, according to its website.
AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.
The program is in its fourth year and the first group of AVID students will graduate from South Hagerstown and Williamsport high schools. North Hagerstown High is in its third year and the four middle school sites — E. Russell Hicks, Northern Middle School, Springfield Middle School and Western Heights Middle School — are in their second year, said Jessica Reinhard, supervisor of advanced programs for Washington County Public Schools.
Some colleges and universities are incorporating the AVID program on campus, including Salisbury University in Salisbury, Md., Reinhard said.
E. Russell Hicks’ AVID program has a partnership with Hagerstown Community College students, said Mark Lysiak, a seventh-grade math teacher and HCC liaison for AVID.
Some education majors in Jenny Stonestreet’s classes at HCC volunteer their time one day a week during the school year for a 45-minute AVID tutorial session, earning them a letter of recommendation and certificate for their portfolios, as well as extra credit from Stonestreet.
AVID students have a 40-minute AVID class each day, in addition to their twice weekly tutorials.
Other county AVID schools usually use volunteer tutors as well, said Reinhard in a phone interview.
“I am absolutely jealous of the AVID program. I wish they had implemented it in my middle school,” said Megan McGaughey, one of the HCC student tutors.
“From the first meeting, they’ve made leaps and bounds already,” she said. “The AVID program has definitely changed the way I look at middle school learning.”
AVID began at E. Russell Hicks last year with selected seventh-grade students. This year the program was expanded to include seventh- and eighth-grade students, with the eighth-graders’ tutorials on Monday and Wednesday and the seventh-graders’ on Tuesday and Thursday.
There are about 25 eighth-grade students and about 20 seventh-graders in the program this year, with a cap on how many students can participate.
Heading for college
Katie Harris, AVID site team coordinator and seventh-grade English language arts and magnet teacher, said the goal is to introduce the program to next year’s incoming sixth-graders, but that will require student recommendations from fifth-grade teachers.
Students must be accepted into the program to participate. The program at E. Russell Hicks is geared for the students who are “middle of the line and get overlooked,” Harris said.
Teachers recommend students who have the potential to be academically successful and who could handle merit classes, but might need a little push, Harris said.
Many of these students would be the first in their families to go to college.