Welcome to AVID class, teaching students to AVIDly achieve

Micah Osler, staff writer

 Edina Public Schools joined 81 other schools in Minnesota this year when it added Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, a new program geared towards helping students with fair academic track records become the best students they can be.

 The course, taught to a class of 22 by math teacher Arne Bolstad, aims to help students who are already doing fine in high school (generally defined as B or C students), but are motivated to achieve more. According to Bolstad, the purpose of the class is to “better prepare an underserved population at Edina High School for college – students who we’d like to see challenge themselves to take enriched and AP courses during their time with us.” Skills such as notetaking and study groups are emphasized in the curriculum.

 The end goal, Bolstad said, is to end up with AVID graduates attending college. Out of the more than 22,000 AVID students who participated in a nationwide survey, 91.3% reported that they planned to attend a postsecondary institution.

 AVID was started in 1980 by a teacher at San Diego’s Clairemont High School. The program initially began as a way to help new students in the district achieve their full potential but was soon expanded to other schools across the nation.

 Some original elements of the curriculum remain in the Edina program, such as a sense of teamwork instilled by a program where students ask questions and allow their fellow students to answer them. According to Bolstad, there are college-educated tutors who come in twice weekly to encourage inquiry and collaboration among students.

 This program also helps with many skills beyond the classroom. “We teach them an inquiry process that will help them be successful in life,” said Bolstad. However, he admitted that the program is still growing. “I think that right now we’re still finding our way,” Bolstad said. “What we’re trying to do is find out where our students are, and meet the needs that they have.”

 Students in Edina’s AVID class are not alone in getting help with notetaking and organizational skills. Today, AVID helps over 200,000 students in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The program continues to grow and put down firm roots in many communities – as it is now doing in Edina.