This qualitative case study examined the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program in a high-achieving, suburban high school using the foundation of social capital theory. The researcher investigated how students' participation in AVID, specifically their relationships with their AVID teacher and other AVID students, affected their behaviors and achievement in high school along with their plans for attending a post-secondary institution.
Five years ago, Bill Gates called America's high schools "obsolete," and, more recently, he testified before the Congress that "every student in America should graduate from high school ready for college, career, and life. "Every child," Gates stated, "no exceptions" (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007). This notion of preparing every child in America and overcoming their demographics, family backgrounds, and economic hardships is continuing to burden America's public high schools. In this era of accountability, high schools are faced with the monumental undertaking of graduating all of its students and preparing them for post-secondary success while at the same time meeting the requirements set forth by the federal mandate No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
To achieve both of these lofty goals, high schools must provide all of its students, especially those who are labeled at-risk, with an appropriate and rigorous instructional program coupled with effective safety nets and interventions designed to provide students with the support they need to be successful academically. Many schools, even those that are high-achieving and positioned in affluent, suburban communities, have pockets of students who are in need of additional support from the school setting in order to succeed.
Nationwide, high schools are implementing various programs and intervention systems to enhance student achievement, improve graduation rates, and increase college enrollment. One program that has received recent attention and documented success in numerous high schools is the Advancement via Individual Determination program or AVID. AVID was created especially for students who have historically failed in the educational system by providing them with a core of academically challenging courses and a comprehensive support system at school.
The primary data source for this qualitative study was semi-structured interviews with 12th grade AVID students. Additionally, the researcher observed the students on multiple occasions in their AVID class. These interviews and observations provided an in-depth look of the AVID program and how it has influenced the students' educational experiences during high school.
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to gather the perspective of the AVID program through the lens of the students who were part of the program. The goal was to investigate the AVID program with a focus on the students' acquisition of social capital in the school setting from adults and their peers. Recently, social capital is receiving educational policy attention relating to how it can be a collective resource that can facilitate the academic success of students in schools. This study analyzed the AVID program and the possibility of utilizing the ideas associated with social capital to improve educational outcomes in a high school setting.
The qualitative nature of the study contributed to the body of literature about the AVID program by providing data directly from the students' perspectives and experiences. This case study was intended to provide insight to other school districts that are similar in makeup to the one that was studied. The outcome of this study, regarding the implementation of the AVID program in a high, achieving, suburban high school, can provide similar schools with information about a possible intervention program to improve the educational success of at-risk students who have historically failed in the school setting.