IB and AVID: A Match Made

In Heaven

Asheesh Misra
Asheesh Misra

Jessica and Holly co-wrote the course guide for a dual enrollment, two year AVID and IB Theory of Knowledge course which was given honors recognition by the University of California and official approval from the AVID Center. Del Mar High School is working on fully integrating their IB and AVID programs with the goal of increasing access and success for students typically underrepresented in IB courses.

Del Mar High School is a comprehensive public high school located in San Jose, California. Del Mar is a Title I school with a very diverse student population. Before bringing on the IB program, Del Mar High School's reputation was not highly regarded in the community. Many families in Del Mar's attendance boundaries were choosing to send their students elsewhere and students and staff knew that the reputation needed to change. After much research and exploration the staff decided that the adoption of the IB Diploma Program was the solution to turning around the climate and culture of the school. The use of the IB program as a reform/rebranding program has become increasingly popular in the US over the last decade, though not without challenges.

Longitudinal studies by Corcoran and Gerry (2010) and May and Perna (2013) noted that public schools with IB programs have trouble recruiting and maintaining enrollment of underrepresented students in IB programs. Underrepresented students often struggle with imposter syndrome and workload in advanced courses. Students, for example, predominantly identified a perceived ethnic barrier to their success in IB, with several students commenting, "IB is white and AVID is Latino." As one student said, "AVID is highly more valuable in my opinion than IB. There is a huge diversity gap between AVID and IB where IB tends to be largely white and unprepared to meet the needs of more students of color" (Royaltey, 2016).

In the case of Del Mar, the administration and teachers on campus knew that Del Mar students would need additional support to successfully access and succeed in IB courses. This is where the AVID program enters the picture. Prior to being authorized as an IB World School, Del Mar High School had a very well established AVID program. AVID provides social and academic support structures for students. Since becoming an IB School the AVID program has grown even stronger with nine sections of the AVID elective and the goal of becoming an AVID National Demonstration School within the next three years.

"AVID helped me understand what was to be expected in my further studies and how I can alter my techniques to do better and succeed. I still use AVID note taking and studying skills in my college classes and I couldn't have a clearer understanding of them" (Royaltey, 2016).

For underrepresented students, the marriage between AVID and IB can be powerful. While there is a subset of AVID elective students, just as there is a subset of IB diploma and certificate candidates, a school culture and academic philosophy built around the combination of the two has the potential to propel all students forward. The skills emphasized in the AVID program can accelerate enrollment in the IB program for students who may lack the experience and resources.. The IB program's emphasis on rigorous reading and writing requirements prepares students for college academic life, while AVID provides "behind the scenes" supports in the form of note-taking, organization and time management, as well as overt instruction in the "hidden curriculum" of college, such as etiquette with professors, and how to engage in academic conversations with peers and adults (Royaltey, 2016).

At Del Mar teachers are trained to see IB and AVID as complementary and not competing programs. Because many of our students are entering IB classes below grade level in math, reading, and/or writing, or having never taken an honors or advanced course before, the teachers at Del Mar know that additional scaffolds and supports will need to put in place to support our students in their IB courses. Del Mar teachers turn to AVID instructional strategies as their answer. The mantra at Del Mar is "IB is what we teach, and AVID is how we teach it."

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