Public education is in a significant state of flux. Educators across the United States are dealing with unprecedented levels of poverty. Poverty rates are growing post-recession and, last year, the majority of children attending the nation’s public schools qualified for free and reduced priced lunch. To qualify for free lunch, a family of four must make less than $24,250 per year.
Poverty is a limiting factor in accessing a quality education, and the stakes have never been higher. Job statistic forecasts suggest that approximately seven out of every 10 American jobs will require some level of post-secondary education by 2020, a date that is right around the corner!
Our challenge is to figure out how to ensure our students are more prepared than ever before, as the high school diploma is no longer a guarantee of a living-wage job
Our challenge is to figure out how to ensure our students are more prepared than ever before, as the high school diploma is no longer a guarantee of a living-wage job. How should school systems work differently?
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The Richland School District has invested heavily in Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) in response to the big societal changes outlined above. AVID provides teachers user-friendly strategies designed to help children learn how to take ownership of their learning. It works in two ways.
▪ Most important are the school-wide strategies offered in grades 3-12. The strategies are simply what successful adults have at their disposal, the ability to take charge of learning through systematic note taking and reading skills. These strategies promote a healthy culture of taking personal responsibility for one’s own learning and a healthy culture of intellectual curiosity.
▪ The AVID elective at Richland middle schools and high schools offers students a concentrated dose of AVID. Students enrolled in the AVID elective earn college degrees at much higher rates than their peers who do not.
Jefferson Elementary School, Enterprise Middle School, and Richland High School each provide a short example of how AVID has positively impacted their students.
Jefferson Elementary School’s AVID focus is on providing students with the necessary skills they need for personal and academic success. Organizational tools are emphasized, such as time management and goal-setting. Implementing these skills and tools at a young age helps students develop a growth mindset and sets them up to be successful lifelong learners.
Enterprise Middle School offers AVID elective classes at 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Students who qualify must be motivated and determined to take advanced courses with the goal of earning at least one high school credit by the time they leave 8th grade. AVID elective students have noted increased confidence in their academics as well as improved organizational skills. The WICOR (Writing to Learn, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading to Learn) strategies infused in the elective classes also are utilized school-wide to provide rigorous coursework and access for all students.
Richland High School departments are working on implementing common WICOR strategies. For example, the history and language arts departments are focusing on students marking the text to address the rigors of common core.
The Richland School District will continue to offer a rigorous academic program and look for ways to make it even better. We will not compromise in our commitment to providing teachers and students with the resources they need to be successful.