For background, please read this article in Education Week. The article casts doubts about the effectiveness of the AVID program in several areas. You can also read this article on the AVID Center blog that is a response to the Education Week article.
AVID is Beneficial
I am an AVID Elective Teacher that teaches three sections of the elective; one each of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I believe in the program and I do think that it makes a difference for students who put in the effort to realize what the purpose is.
The students learn note taking, organization (Big Binders), discussion groups, collaborative team work, and tutorials with college age tutors.
You won't see the results anywhere. You can't test it. You can't look at data and know that it works. It might not even show up in GPA improvements.
Much of what AVID does is the exact opposite of what traditional teachers do. AVID promotes questioning. Traditional teaching says sit, listen, take notes and fill it in on a test. AVID promotes group work. Traditional teaching puts students in rows. AVID promotes healthy debate and critical thinking. Traditional teaching is textbooks.
How do you know it works? Students come to class on time and ready to learn. Students can respectfully engage in debate. Students know several ways to take notes. Students know how ask the questions that lead to deeper learning. Students challenge teachers. Students have a positive relationship with the AVID Elective teacher.
These all create better people, not better students. But...
Is it just the teacher?
I think part of it is the teacher. You have to have a non traditional teacher in the AVID Elective position. Someone who can form relationships with students. Someone who is comfortable with students challenging them and asking hard questions. Someone who can push students to examine who they are and who they want to be.
Yep, I know you are thinking it, every teacher should do all of those things. It's just not the reality. So maybe it isn't AVID. Maybe it is the teaching.
Not that any cares or will even listen to my recommendation but here it is: Put AVID into every middle school. The strategies that are learned from AVID in middle school are truly life skills that students can take to high school, college, and their career. Also, don't just have the AVID Elective. Put the AVID strategies into every class that every student takes. You can put AVID strategies into Language Arts, Math, and Music. It fits and makes a difference.
Second, take all the qualities of an effective AVID Elective teacher and hire similar teachers for every position in your building. Traditional teaching methods are not as effective today as the AVID strategies and methods.