College and Career Readiness
L.V. Berkner High School
Richardson Independent School District
Berkner High School (BHS) serves a student population (total = 2,721) that is approximately 30% African American, 23% Hispanic, 30% White, 0.4% Native American, 17% Asian/Pacific Islander, 44% economically disadvantaged, 5% limited English proficient (LEP), and 47% at risk.
Staff reported that the percentage of BHS economically disadvantaged students passing TAKS (all tests) improved as a result of the program as approximately 70% of participants were economically disadvantaged. The percentage of BHS economically disadvantaged students passing TAKS (all tests) increased from 50% passing in 2005–06 to 75% passing in 2009–10 (see Supporting Evidence for more information).
In this summary, find out how the campus:
- Involves increasing numbers of teachers in the AVID interdisciplinary site team, campus activities, and student mentoring program
- Includes a focus on AVID in campus staff development and hiring processes
- Expanded AVID elective course offerings to all grade levels and conducts ongoing student recruitment
- Offers enhancements to the program, including an AVID club, parent activities, and a mentoring program in conjunction with the district’s Communities in Schools program through which AVID students mentor elementary students
- Collaborates with a local community college to offer dual enrollment programming for AVID students
- Offers college preparation and awareness building activities
- Became a national AVID demonstration site
- Used a Texas High School Project Exemplar grant to expand AVID strategies to all students
Strategies that are aligned with research-based best practices in supporting students in college and career readiness include (see Research Base for more information):
- Intervening early, when students are developing their college and career aspirations
- Emphasizing rigor and high expectations for all students, along with appropriate counseling and other supports
- Ensuring that all students, including those from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups and lower income families, have access to high-quality high school courses
- Collaborating with postsecondary institutions to allow students to earn college credits in high school
- AVID is a college-readiness system targeting students in Grades 4–12 who are in the academic middle for four-year college eligibility (for details, see http://www.avid.org/intro.html). Students identified for participation are those students who teachers think are capable of completing a college preparatory curriculum but who have not yet reached their potential. AVID students are often the first in their families to attend college. Students identified for the AVID program are enrolled in their campus’ most advanced courses with support through an AVID elective. The AVID elective is a credit-bearing, state-approved innovative course. The curriculum emphasizes the WICR method, which stands for writing, inquiry, collaboration, and reading, as well as organizational and study skills, such as Cornell note-taking and collaborative study groups. The AVID program offers a range of training for educators, such as annual AVID summer institutes for campus site teams as well as campus and district leadership training to promote expanded implementation of AVID strategies (for details, see http://www.avid.org/abo_professionaldevelopment.html).
- Richardson ISD (RISD) has a long-standing AVID program for students in Grades 7–12, with a district director supporting campus AVID programs at the district’s junior and high school campuses. In the district, AVID is described as an academic, regularly scheduled, elective class based on reading and writing as tools of learning, inquiry method, and collaborative grouping. The three main components of the program are: academic instruction, tutorial support, and motivational activities (for details, see http://www.risd.org/Group/Schools/Programs.html).
- With district interest in expanding AVID, BHS began implementation of the program in 2005–06 and became a national AVID demonstration site in 2009 (for details, see http://www.avid.org/abo_demoschools.html). Information about BHS’s AVID program can be accessed at the following site: http://www.risd.org/schools/bhs/AVID/avid.htm. To view a video of BHS AVID students reflecting on their progress through high school, see “Cardboard Confessionals” at http://www.avid.org/med_video.html.
- The campus received a 2009–10 Texas High School Project Exemplar Program for Successful Practices grant to support expansion of AVID. For details, see http://www.thsp.org/initiatives/exemplars/berknerHSAVID/.
Source: Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS)
Comprehensive training and recruitment
- With district interest in expanding AVID, a team of BHS campus administrators began researching AVID in the fall of 2004, attended a two-day training at a local university, and visited several AVID campuses in the area.
- The initial team then identified a program coordinator and an AVID site team that included a department chair from one of the foundation subject areas, a campus instructional specialist, a counselor, an administrator, and Advanced Placement (AP) and other teachers who were already focused on teaching rigorous courses representing a variety of departments. Campus staff reported that efforts were made to identify site team members who were highly respected by staff to increase the profile and credibility of the initiative.
- In summer 2005, the campus sent eight staff members to participate in the AVID summer institute in order to build awareness and support for the program. The district subsequently supported annual participation of eight campus staff members in the AVID summer institute. While AVID elective teachers were required to attend, participation also included new teachers each year. Each afternoon after the 4.5-day summer institute training, the site team members met to plan AVID programming for the upcoming year.
- While only 3-4 members of the site team taught the AVID elective, other members provided additional student support as needed (for example, counseling, tutoring, mentoring). Other roles of site team members were typically defined by their interests or strengths. For example, some site team members analyzed data for the AVID program; others regularly provided training to other teachers or made presentations to campus/district or outside groups. The site team met monthly.
- In the initial implementation year (2005–06), the campus offered four sections of the AVID elective to 100 students in Grades 9–10 with expansion to all grade levels by 2007–08. The campus currently offers three sections of the AVID elective in each grade 9–11 and two sections for 12th graders. In 2009–10, over 250 students participated in the program campuswide; enrollment in 2010–11 was estimated at over 320 students.
- Student identification processes for AVID participation included the following:
- Acceptance of students who had participated in AVID at their junior high school
- Review of data for all other incoming ninth and 10th graders that included TAKS performance, teacher evaluations, counselor recommendations, attendance, discipline, and previous courses (see description of recruitment rubric below)
- Invitations to a potential pool of students and their parents
- Student applications and oral interviews with counselors
- Ongoing recruitment through e-mails to all teachers two times per year to identify students who teachers felt had the potential to succeed in advanced courses but needed additional support
- Counselors played a large role in identifying and finalizing AVID participation lists. Counselors reviewed performance data, invited students, reviewed applications, and conducted oral interviews. Counselors used a recruitment rubric designed by the district and adapted for campus use in this process. The point-based rubric included TAKS performance by subject area, course schedules, semester grades by subject area, student socio-economic status, attendance and discipline history, special needs and special circumstances, family college attendance history, and an assessment of the students’ written application and oral interviews. Staff reported that students with a history of attendance or discipline problems were not typically considered for the program as it was not designed to address those issues. For more information on the BHS AVID student profile, see the program brochure at http://www.risd.org/schools/bhs/AVID/OVERVIEW%20%20AVID%20brochure%2009-10.pdf.
- In February, potential AVID candidates from the junior high (those students already participating in AVID in Grade 8 and additional students recommended by junior high teachers and staff) visited the high school for half a day to meet with AVID teachers and tutors; walk through class rotations; and attend sessions such as “Making Your Ninth Grade Year Count,” Pre-AP and AP course strategies, team building, and an introduction to clubs and organizations at the high school level. High school AVID staff sometimes arranged for students who were undecided about applying to “shadow” a high school AVID student.
- In addition, staff reported that student word of mouth about AVID had increasingly become an important recruitment tool. As the program developed, AVID seniors also made presentations to underclassmen to promote interest in the program.
Implementation and enhancements to AVID program components
- The AVID elective was implemented and provided direct instruction to students in key AVID strategies, tutoring and collaborative study groups, and motivational and college-awareness activities aligned with the following flexible schedule.
- On Mondays and Wednesdays, AVID elective teachers provided instruction on the AVID curriculum, which focuses on academic “survival” skills (note-taking, organization, time management), building relationships with teachers, student self-advocacy, and team building. The goal was to develop “well-rounded” students. The AVID program provides appropriate curricula for each level of participation, including introductory through advanced materials (for details, http://www.avid.org/sta_membershipbenefits.html#curriculum).
- On Tuesdays and Thursdays, AVID elective students participated in collaborative study groups aligned with specific courses of approximately seven students. Study groups were guided by college tutors trained by the district AVID office in facilitating student-led discussions. Students were required to bring written questions in areas in which they needed help to present during tutoring sessions. Students then engaged in addressing the questions themselves with the guidance of the tutor.
- On Fridays, the campus organized activities such as presentations by career counselors, financial advisors, AVID speakers, or college representatives; virtual or field trip visits to colleges; collaborative team-building activities; and community-service related activities. The community service component was organized formally, beginning with an introduction to community service in Grade 9 and required participation in school and community service projects in the upper grade levels. Staff emphasized that the schedule was fluid to accommodate conflicts and speaker availability. Examples of additional activities included filling out mock entrance exam and college applications to familiarize students with the kinds of information required.
- Other non-negotiable components of the program included daily student use of academic binders that contained assignments, notes, and other materials for all courses to promote AVID organizational strategies as well as academic planners that included daily calendars and a weekly log for classwork assignments, goals, and reminders. All AVID students were provided with direct instruction in how to use these resources and were expected to be carrying binders and planners in all courses. AVID elective teachers, and, increasingly, teachers in other courses, worked directly with students in using the binders to organize academic coursework.
- College tutors who guided collaborative study groups were trained by the district director in facilitating Socratic discussions. Tutors were typically identified through staff recommendations. Former graduates had also participated as tutors. Staff reported that the students themselves had become so accomplished in conducting collaborative student groups that sometimes AVID students from upper grades were asked to lead a session if college tutors were unavailable, and some students conducted their own groups regularly without any facilitation.
- In addition, the campus AVID coordinator oversaw a voluntary daily lunch tutorial session in her classroom every day. Students often met collaboratively with their peers on common needs during these sessions without facilitation, though college tutors were available to facilitate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Because AVID students were required to participate in extra academic tutorials provided at the campus, the lunchtime tutoring sessions were well attended. The program coordinator also used the lunchtime tutorial sessions to meet with college tutors (in groups or one-on-one) as necessary to address any additional training or specific issues that needed to be addressed.
- To support students who wanted to continue to take the AVID elective throughout high school but who had difficulty fitting it into their schedule with other requirements, the district supported summer school scholarships for exemplary AVID students to complete some course requirements during the summer. Staff emphasized that the AVID counselors worked with all AVID students in scheduling to allow them to meet graduation requirements and participate in AVID, academic enrichment electives, and extracurricular activities. Staff were also working on increasing the number of AVID elective teachers with certification in speech so that credit-bearing speech instruction could be integrated into the AVID elective.
- The campus also worked with a local community college to enroll eligible AVID students early in dual enrollment courses to address graduation requirements. Each year, the campus took 10th-grade AVID students to the college campus to take the Accuplacer college placement test. Students who met admission criteria could then begin taking dual credit courses. The district AVID office paid the Accuplacer fee for AVID students taking the test early.
- To increase emphasis and awareness on college going campuswide, the AVID site team put up visuals all over campus, including college banners and pennants as well as poster-sized acceptance letters from colleges and universities.
- One member of the AVID site team also served as the sponsor for an AVID club. The club met monthly, and all AVID students were encouraged to join as an extracurricular activity for college applications. Club activities included fundraisers to support various AVID extracurricular activities and school and community service projects. A recent example of a club activity was a pre-TAKS tutoring event to which AVID students invited one non-AVID student. Pizza was offered, and the activity included some games. Teachers from across the school volunteered to guide tutoring in their subject areas.
- In addition, an AVID program newsletter was created by an AVID site team member and distributed to AVID students, campus teachers, and district staff. To view the current issue, see http://www.risd.org/schools/bhs/AVID/avid.htm.
- Each year, teachers from across the campus were asked to serve as a mentor to AVID students. At a staff luncheon prior to the start of the school year, AVID staff put up a poster-sized roster of all AVID students for teachers to sign up as mentors. AVID staff then provided mentors with a profile of their mentees. AVID students also asked specific teachers to serve as their mentors. Teachers, who usually had the student(s) in their classes, mentored AVID students through informal ongoing contacts. Because a focus of the AVID elective was encouraging students to use their mentors for support and advocacy, many mentor/mentee contacts were student driven. In addition, the campus AVID program hosted two mentor breakfasts, one in the fall and one in the spring.
- All AVID site team members participated in a variety of AVID-focused events, such as a fall Back to School cookout, a parent night, a mentor breakfast, and senior banquet for AVID students. Staff reported that participating in these activities helped site team members who were not teaching the AVID elective or who did not have AVID students in their classes to become familiar to AVID students and to be better able to serve as a potential resource for student support.
- The campus developed a process called “probation” to provide early guidance and support for AVID students who were not meeting course grade requirements or who had discipline issues. Campus teachers were asked to e-mail an AVID site team member if an AVID student in their class was experiencing trouble. A team of two site team members would then arrange to meet with the student for a conference to find out what the problem was, set two short-term goals, and develop a non-negotiable plan for achieving those goals (e.g., attend a certain number of extra tutoring sessions per week until the grade improved). Students took home documents associated with the meeting for their parents to sign with a copy to the AVID elective teacher. If the student did not meet the goals in the identified time frame, the team would hold another meeting with the student. Staff reported that this approach emphasized to students that staff members besides the AVID elective teacher were “looking out” for them.
Schoolwide expansion of AVID strategies
- The campus cycled new staff onto the AVID site team each year to continue to grow the program for schoolwide expansion. Staff reported that the goal was to train as many staff members on the campus as possible and that approximately 15%-20% of teaching staff had received formal AVID training to date. The current site team included the coordinator who also taught a section of the AVID elective, four additional AVID elective teachers, two instructional specialists, two counselors, two administrators, and 12 additional teachers. For more information on the current BHS AVID site team, see http://www.risd.org/schools/bhs/AVID/SITE%20TEAM.htm.
- Staff reported that invitations to participate in the AVID site team and AVID training were intentionally coordinated to promote and expand the use of AVID strategies schoolwide. Specifically, because department chairs and other teachers responsible for designing campus staff development participated in AVID, ongoing focus and training in AVID strategies for all teachers was regular and ongoing.
- In addition, in 2009, members of the AVID site team applied for and were awarded a Texas High School Project Exemplar program grant to support schoolwide expansion of AVID strategies.
- With grant funds, the campus developed and promoted the use of academic planners for non-AVID students. The campus purchased extra materials to upgrade the planners from the campus print-shop version that AVID students typically used to make the planners look “cool” and attractive to other students. The site team then made a presentation on the planners to all teachers at the beginning of the year. Some teachers voluntarily integrated use of the planners into their classroom instruction or in one-on-support for students who they felt needed support in organizing their schoolwork. A site team member also gave a brief training in using the planners to any student who requested them. Staff reported that hundreds of students were using the planners, either as part of classwork or independently, and that the campus planned to continue providing them and would look for additional funds for the future to do so.
- Another focus of the grant was to take 40 AVID students who were juniors and seniors on a visit of college campuses outside the district area. Staff reported that many AVID students had never been on a college campus.
- Planned initiatives to continue to expand AVID strategies included additional staff development to focus on creating a campuswide college-going culture so that all students were well informed to make the choice to go to college. Staff also planned to continue to promote the use of AVID WICR training through ongoing staff training.
- School and community service was a requirement for AVID students and was typically coordinated through the AVID elective class and the AVID club. In addition, AVID seniors were regularly scheduled to talk with students in AVID elective classes in Grades 7–8 at the junior high schools about the advantages of staying in AVID in high school.
- In 2007–08, BHS AVID also coordinated a mentoring program called AVID Pals in conjunction with the Communities in Schools program at a district elementary school. CIS is a national stay-in-school program that is coordinated in Texas through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) (for details, see http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index3.aspx?id=4639). BHS AVID students visited the campus once a week before school started to mentor at-risk elementary students, assist them with homework, and play interactive and team-building games.
- Campus AVID staff also made presentations to and worked to develop partnerships with community groups such as the Berkner Exchange Club and Rotary Club. The Exchange Club sponsored the annual Back to School AVID cookout for a number of years, buying supplies and serving food. Staff reported that the Rotary Club had also made a donation to cover the costs of AVID memory books for presentation at the AVID senior banquet. Staff were in discussions about possible AVID rotary scholarships.
Resources, Cost Components, and Sources of Funding:
The practice is supported by a combination of district funding to support AVID membership and training, grant funding to support schoolwide expansion (THSP Exemplar grant program), and donations for a variety of AVID-related activities.
Cost components included the following:
- AVID membership and training
- Student materials
- Student events
- Annual stipend for the AVID coordinator ($1,000)
- Staff reported that providing the right support and guiding students to the appropriate Pre-AP courses in Grade 9 was critical to student success. Staff reported that the district funding, technical assistance, and commitment as well as the support and involvement of the campus’ principal and assistant principals were also crucial.
- Staff reported that the schoolwide emphasis on AVID strategies was supported by the fact that members of the site team were also responsible for new teacher support. New hires were introduced to the AVID program upon coming to the campus.
- Selecting teachers for the site team who were respected across campus was another successful strategy reported by staff that increased buy-in and support from other teachers. Staff also said that increasing numbers of teachers were asking to participate on the AVID site team based on their positive contact with AVID students.
- Regularly including a focus on AVID in staff development, even just 10 minutes in a staff meeting, was an ongoing strategy to build and maintain the schoolwide emphasis of the program.
- Staff said it was important that the AVID site team was interdisciplinary and not so large as to be unmanageable. Site team members, and former site team members, were an important asset for providing one-on-one support for AVID students when their elective teacher was unavailable or a student needed extra subject-specific support.
- Staff reported that increasing parent involvement was a challenge but that events such as the Back to School AVID cookout and annual AVID senior banquet had contributed to increased participation. Staff also asked parents to participate in the site team, a requirement of AVID, and also to serve as chaperones for AVID field trips.
- Staff reported that the biggest challenge was time. All AVID site team members had full teaching loads and additional campus responsibilities as well as leadership roles. Because of this, it was difficult to have full attendance at site team meetings, requiring systematic follow-up and communication with all site team members.
Established Best Practice
Overview of Evidence:
Staff reported that the program had improved campus TAKS performance, particularly for the economically disadvantaged student group as approximately 70% of AVID participants were identified as economically disadvantaged. The percentage of BHS economically disadvantaged students passing TAKS (all tests) in 2005–06 was 50%, compared the state average of 42% and a peer campus comparison group average of 44%. In 2009–10, the percentage of BHS economically disadvantaged students passing TAKS (all tests) was 75%, compared to the state average of 63% and the peer campus group average of 66% for similar students. All comparisons were statistically significant (p<.05). Chart 1 shows trend data comparing BHS economically disadvantaged student performance to the state and peer campus comparison group averages for similar students from 2005–06 to 2009–10.
Source: Texas Assessment Management System
- ACT. (2010). Mind the gaps: How college readiness narrows achievement gaps in college success. Iowa City, Iowa: Author. Retrieved from http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/MindTheGaps.pdf
- Bangser, M. (2008). Preparing high school students for successful transitions to postsecondary education and employment.Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research, National High School Center. Retrieved from http://www.betterhighschools.org/docs/PreparingHSStudentsforTransition_073108.pdf
- Hooker, S. & Brand, B. (2009). Success at every step: How 23 programs support youth on the path to college and beyond. Washington, D.C.: American Youth Policy Forum. Retrieved from http://www.aypf.org/publications/SuccessAtEveryStep.htm
- Tierney, W. G., Bailey, T., Constantine, J., Finkelstein, N., & Hurd, N. F. (2009). Helping students navigate the path to college: What high schools can do: A practice guide (NCEE #2009-4066). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/
- See also, AVID (2010). Research summary. Retrieved from http://www.avid.org/dl/res_research/research_overview.pdf, and Review of AVID research (ND). Retrieved from http://www.avid.org/dl/res_research/research_review.pdf
L.V. Berkner High School
Richardson Independent School District
1600 E. Spring Valley Road
Richardson, TX 75081
1Peer campuses were identified using the campus groups used in Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) reporting. For more information on how campus groups are identified, see the AEIS Glossary, http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2009/glossary.html.
2All averages are weighted averages based on the grade level(s) targeted by the practice.