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Educators from across Australia celebrate AVID

 Mary Catherine Swanson
Mary Catherine Swanson, AVID creator

A record number of participants from across Australia will gather today to celebrate a remarkable program that supports nearly two million young people in Australia and the USA (every year) to get to university.

The 400 educators, principals, and students will attend the annual Summer Institute for AVID – ‘Advancement via Individual Determination’ – a hugely successful program that started in San Diego nearly 40 years ago to raise student expectations about getting to university.

AVID’s 2017 Summer Institute will feature keynote speakers:

  •  the University of Oregon’s Dr Matt Coleman, the Executive Director at Inflexion, a not-for-profit consulting group that helps educators better prepare students for life.   
  •  Wyndham Central College VCE student Hussan Nur Hussein, whose goal to attend university in 2019 defies his start in Australia as a non-English-speaking refugee.

VU adapts AVID program for Australia

Now in its seventh year here, Victoria University has been at the forefront of adapting the AVID program for Australia. Its holistic philosophy to build academic, social, and emotional skills from primary school onward raises educational and career aspirations for all students, but those from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds benefit most.

Since AVID was piloted in Australia through The Victoria Institute, with the support of HEPPP funding in 2011, the program has spread quickly around Australia. Today, its reach is impressive:

  • over 30,000 students from 47 schools are involved in AVID in Australia
  • more than 3,000 Australian teachers have received formal training in AVID’s teaching strategies
  • hundreds of teachers-in-training have been trained as AVID tutors. 

AVID Australia National Director, Claire Brown, said student performance data at AVID schools have shown steady improvement due to the program’s focus on “creating a community of high expectations regardless of students’ postcode or background”.

Earlier this year, Victoria University hosted a visit from the founder of AVID, Mary Catherine Swanson, a former Time Magazine and CNN Best Teacher in America.

“AVID fits beautifully with VU’s agenda to transform lives and communities through the power of education, and to become a true university without boundaries,” said Brown.

About AVID in Australia

AVID was created in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, an English teacher in San Diego, USA, to help the largely black and Hispanic inner-city students who were being bussed into her school from less-privileged areas.

Not content simply to offer remedial classes for under-achievers, Swanson set up a sweeping program that offered one-on-one coaching from student peers or teachers, and training in study skills and critical thinking.

AVID develops explicit skills in writing, reading, inquiry-based and collaborative learning, and critical thinking. It teaches both teachers and students practical strategies such as focused note-taking and ‘Socratic seminars’, which examine attitudes, knowledge and problem-solving abilities. 

Trainee teachers and students from local universities serve as AVID tutors and mentor younger students on university life. AVID students have opportunities to visit university campuses and sit in on lectures well before they graduate from high school.

Data from the AVID schools in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory indicate significant academic, cultural, and aspirational improvements in AVID-educated students and their likely post-school destinations.

Victoria University holds the licence for AVID in Australia. Australia is the only country outside the USA to have been granted an AVID licence.

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