I read with interest Delaney Smith’s article “Santa Barbara’s Black, Latinx Grads Less Likely to Get into California’s Public Universities.” It certainly painted a pretty bleak picture of Santa Barbara Unified’s disadvantaged students and students of color in attaining CSU/UC eligibility. The article’s picture is sadly incomplete, however. It completely left out one shining spot that exists in all three area high schools that bucks this trend, AVID.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a nationwide program based on the philosophy that disadvantaged yet motivated students will succeed at the highest academic levels if given enough support. It has been in place throughout the district for many years, quietly preparing hundreds of students for success not just in getting accepted into college, but also for success in college.

AVID’s track record is impressive. At Dos Pueblos, where I once taught, AVID students, who are overwhelmingly socioeconomically disadvantaged, Hispanic, and speak a language other than English at home, annually outperform the rest of the student body by a wide margin in any number of academic metrics. The DP AVID class of 2021 had 68 students who received a total of 189 college acceptances. Over 90 percent of the AVID students were UC/CSU eligible after what was by any measure a challenging academic year. These results are not unique to DP; AVID programs at SBHS and SMHS also see considerable success, and all schools report that their AVID students are routinely a substantial portion of their top performers. Long-term data also indicates that our AVID students actually attain BS/BA degrees at higher percentages than almost all other ethnicities, including Caucasians.

AVID is not for everyone. Students have to apply to get into the program and agree to do the hard work necessary to succeed, including taking multiple AP and dual enrollment classes, participate in extracurriculars, and maintaining good grades throughout. In exchange, they receive a higher level of support from their AVID class and AVID teacher, including AVID tutorials and access to PEAC after-school tutoring, as well as assistance in applying to college and for financial aid and scholarships.

Clearly, AVID is a hugely successful program in closing the achievement gap. It doesn’t seek the spotlight but needs to be noted as a bright spot in S.B. Unified’s secondary schools.


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