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Muskego gets AVID-ly enthusiastic about new academic program

School officials see value in program designed to raise achievement

Dec. 9, 2013

Muskego — A new program will try to raise achievement level of local high school students who are currently in the middle ground of academic success.

In the end, the program might end up raising achievement for everyone, Muskego-Norway school officials say.

Muskego High School will start an Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, program in fall 2014, joining other Wisconsin high schools that have taken the same steps since 2005.

Noteworthy elements

Under the program, the emphasis will strongly be on writing and reading skills with an inquiry-based approach to promote critical thinking. One of the strongest attributes of AVID is that students learn to be organized and are trained in how to take Cornell notes, an effective form of notetaking.

At first, the Muskego program will be for sophomores with grade point averages of 2.0 to 3.5 who show college potential, desire and determination. A freshman AVID class will be added the second semester in January 2015. Students will attend an AVID class every day.

Although only a few freshmen and sophomores will be chosen for AVID, all the freshman teachers will learn about Cornell notes, as well as the Socratic seminars and critical thinking techniques AVID uses, Superintendent Kelly Thompson said. Teachers would apply those elements to some extent to all their students.

"It really aligns very well with our staff development," she said.

For college or life

Because the goal of AVID is to open doors to college for students who are on the edge of being college-ready, one of the requirements is for AVID students to take two of the advanced placement college level courses the school offers.

But even if students don't go on to college, AVID will help them because it teaches problem-solving, said John LaFleur, Muskego High School associate principal, who gave a presentation on AVID to the Muskego-Norway School Board last week.

"That's a pretty solid skill," LaFleur said.

The military has adopted the AVID approach in its training, so even Muskego students going into the military will be ahead of the game, he said. "And they're going to be more successful," LaFleur added.

Students and teachers must be volunteers for the program and all will be interviewed.

Students attending AVID would get elective credit for it.

AVID's roots

AVID started in San Diego in 1980 and is now all over the country, LaFleur said. In fact, there is an initiative to put it into all the schools in Oklahoma, he said.

In 2005, Nicolet High School in Glendale was the first in the state to offer an AVID program.

Brookfield East High School started its program in 2008, Homestead High School will add a middle school program, and Green Bay is thinking of having AVID from kindergarten through 12th grade, LaFleur said.

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