Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Improving Postsecondary Preparation in Urban Public High Schools: An Evaluation of AVID in Chicago
Center: NCER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Roderick, Melissa Awardee: University of Chicago
Program: Postsecondary and Adult Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $986,031
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A080096

Co-Principal Investigator: Stephen Raudenbush

Purpose: Racial/ethnic minority and low income students are much less likely to leave high school with the qualifications required for admission to four year college. This project will evaluate the efficacy of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. AVID targets high school freshman in the academic middle and seeks to prepare them for college by placing them in more rigorous academic courses, providing instruction in supportive skills (such as studying, organization, writing, and analytic skills), and providing information on the college application process and benefits of post-secondary education. AVID has been evaluated in schools that traditionally send a large percentage of their students on to college. This project focuses on AVID's impacts in urban high schools serving low income minority students that have historically had less success in fostering college attendance.

Project Activities: The study will follow three cohorts of ninth graders (approximately 19,000 students) of which an expected 14 percent will participate in AVID. These students will be attending 25 Chicago high schools. The researchers will draw upon (a) data from the school district (including standardized test data, transcripts, school enrollment, transfer and dropout, and postsecondary information on students); (b) surveys of principals, teachers and students done by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, and (c) Consortium surveys of students in AVID classes. These datasets will be used to collect information on student outcomes including the high school indicators predictive of college success that AVID is expected to impact (e.g., GPA, ACT test performance, and participation in rigorous coursework), as well as indicators of college access and enrollment (e.g., participation in the college search, the application process, completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and enrollment). Survey data will be used to evaluate whether AVID students report more positive learning and study behaviors, greater support and expectations from teachers, and increased involvement in college planning.

Products: The expected products of this research include published reports presenting the evidence on the impacts of the AVID program on high school academic success, the college application process, and college enrollment.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The setting for this project is a large urban school district in Illinois.

Population: Participants in this project include three cohorts of ninth graders (approximately 19,000 students) at 26 city high schools. The analysis will focus on the first cohort that will attend 11 schools with AVID and 15 control schools. AVID students are expected to make up about 14 percent of the sample. They will attend AVID at high schools that have run the program for at least two years, do not provide whole-school AVID, existed in the 2001–2002 school year, and are not selective enrollment, alternative, or charter schools. Students will be first time ninth graders without a disability.

Intervention: AVID is a school-based academic support program aimed at preparing high school students for college access and success. AVID targets students who are performing below their academic potential and places them into rigorous courses, particularly honors and AP courses, while at the same time providing social and academic support for students to succeed in advanced courses. The core of AVID is a daily elective class taken throughout high school that provides AVID students with study skills, bi-weekly tutoring, guidance and college planning, and curricula intended to build their writing and analytic skills. The AVID program provides schools with curricular materials in the areas of study and organization skills (Student Success Path), writing in the content areas (Write Path), and college guidance and planning (College Path).

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a quasi-experimental method, specifically a comparative interrupted time series. The focus of the research will be on the first cohort of students who were ninth graders in the 2005–2006 school year because they will have reached the time for college enrollment by the end of the project and because the number of control schools will decline over time as many adopted or plan to adopt AVID after 2005–2006. Three sets of control groups will be created using propensity score matching: (1) students who were ninth graders at the 15 control schools in the 2001–2002 school year, (2) students who were ninth graders at the 15 control schools in the 2005–2006 school year, and (3) students who were ninth graders at the 11 AVID schools in the 2001–2002 school year (before these 11 schools had AVID).

Control Condition: The control condition consists of (1) students who in the past attended the treatment high schools before they implemented AVID, (2) students who in the past attended high schools that now serve as control schools, and (3) students who attend the control schools in the present.

Key Measures: The two sets of outcome measures are (1) qualifications for college and college readiness (including coursework, grades, and achievement test scores), and (2) effective participation in the college search and application process (including college aspirations, number of college applications, college acceptance, Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion, and college enrollment).

Data Analytic Strategy: The analysis will compare the change in student outcomes in the treatment and control high schools for students who were ninth graders in the 2001–2002 school year and students who were ninth graders in the 2005–2006 school year. This analysis estimates the effect of AVID on student outcomes while controlling for pre-AVID differences in the treatment and control schools and differences in their improvement over time. The researchers will use a two-level hierarchical linear model (HLM) where students (level 1) are nested in schools (level 2). Sub-analyses will address differential impacts of AVID by student race/ethnicity, gender, student's prior achievement (at Level 1), and quality of program implementation (at Level 2).