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AVID Programs Survive Despite State Cuts

Audio

Aired 8/5/09

Roughly 4,000 teachers from across the country are in San Diego to learn how they can help immigrant and minority kids get into college.

— Roughly 4,000 teachers from across the country are in San Diego to learn how they can help immigrant and minority kids get into college.

Advancement Via Individual Determination -- also called the AVID program -- is a national college-preparatory program that was created by a San Diego high school teacher about three decades ago. Since then its been adopted by all San Diego County school districts, as well as districts across the country.

AVID students are typically immigrant and minority students who show academic promise but get average grades. The program enrolls these students in their school's toughest classes. AVID teachers act as counselors and coaches, teaching students the skills they need to do well in those classes.

But AVID, like many educational programs, isn't immune to state education budget cuts. AVID's Rob Gira said there are fewer AVID teachers getting trained for the program this year, and existing programs are offering fewer classes.

“What we don't see is the deepening of the programs,” Gira said. “That's the painful part of it. You can maintain the program but we know, with our demographics in California, Texas and other states, we have students that would really benefit but we can't serve them to the extent that we'd like.”

Even so, Gira said California is one of the few states where the number of new AVID programs are increasing. Gira says federal economic stimulus dollars are helping make that happen. He says federal aid will also help their students pay for college at a time when student fees are at an all time high.

"When you look at what President Obama has put in place in terms of Pell grant increases. For low income students, there are great opportunities, and they can do it," Gira said.

Seventy-eight percent of last year's AVID graduates got into a four-year college. But Gira admits the program needs to do a better job in tracking those students to make sure they actually get their college degree.

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