AVID College Readiness System



MDRC is evaluating the AVID College Readiness System along with the establishment of a “vertical alignment collaborative” across several middle and high schools and a local community college, all located in rural Central Florida. The project is funded by the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation initiative. The project will test the hypothesis that a collaborative of secondary and postsecondary institutions serving a rural area can significantly improve student achievement and success by vertically integrating college readiness best practices and by providing access to rigorous coursework and student support services.

Rural communities, which often have high levels of poverty, find it hard to: 1) attract the highly qualified teachers needed to provide rigorous coursework, 2) provide professional development to teachers, and 3) form communities of practice by discipline because of the small number of teachers in each subject. The project addresses these unique challenges in two ways. First, the project is establishing a vertical alignment collaborative bringing together school leaders and staff from across vertical feeder patterns (grades 6-14) to implement processes and procedures that leverage limited resources, create communities of practice for educators, align best practices and expectations across grades, and create efficiencies that can result in greater student success. Second, the program accelerates implementation of the AVID program across the middle, high, and postsecondary schools. AVID methodologies are designed to add rigor and engagement to classroom activities and student work while fostering a college-going culture.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The research has three main goals: describe the Vertical Alignment Collaborative’s operations to ascertain with what level of fidelity the project model is being implemented and identify conditions that facilitate or constrain successful implementation; provide formative feedback to the Collaborative; and generate preliminary evidence about the project’s effect on student outcomes (e.g., high school graduation rates and academic performance).

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

A pre-post design will be used, comparing students’ academic achievement, behavior, and college-going attitudes before and after exposure to the program. A variety of data sources will be used, including student, teacher, and staff surveys; student records; and National Clearinghouse data to measure college enrollment. The project will take place in three districts in central, rural Florida, all of which are part of the Heartland Consortium: Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto Counties.