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AVID, Check & Connect headed for expansion

  • Blog Post by: Steve Brandt
  • March 10, 2014 - 6:45 PM

Two programs in Minneapolis schools with track records of helping students stay in school and head to college are among the big winners in a proposed shift of how the district spends its state integration aid.

Under a proposal scheduled to go to the school board on Tuesday, the AVID and Check & Connect programs will get a significant expansion next school year. That shift reflects a greater emphasis in state law for integration aid toward student achievement, especially closing the achievement gap, in addition to the traditional priority of desegregating students by race and income.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) would get a 73 percent increase to $3.5 million in an expansion that’s projected to add 950 more students, bringing the total to 2,800 at 23 schools.

According to district research, AVID students are more likely than similar students to be on track to graduate, and have better attendance. Students of color in AVID do better on math and ACT score. For example, 80 percent of 2012 graduates who were in AVID enrolled in college, compared to 69 percent for non-AVIDs students

AVID is a program operating from fourth through 12th grades that works to prepare students described as the academic middle in the skills needed to go to a four-year college. It focuses on reading, writing, collaborating and inquiry skills. It’s aimed in particular at minority or low-income students from families without college experience.

Check & Connect works to establish adult-student connections that keep high school students enrolled, including monitoring attendance, grades and credits toward graduation. District research found Check & Connect students 10 percent more likely than similar students to graduate and also significantly less likely to drop out. The program was developed by the University of Minnesota, was introduced in two district high schools in 2003, expanded to all seven high schools in 2007, and expanded to four middle schools last school year.
 
Other winners under the proposed revamping of funding are programs to interest students in technical fields, where funding would more than double; funding for debate programs, which would double; and programs planned for winter and spring break next school year for lagging students, which would get almost $950,000.

The district’s integration aid is projected at $15.6 million next school year, an increase of 2.4 percent. Much of the increased spending on academic programs is being paid for by reducing funding for other programs previously supported by integration aid or shifting them to other parts of the budget. Those include $2.6 million to transport students to magnet schools, and $320,000 for Metro Transit bus passes for high school students.    

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