Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a course where students work at improving their study skills. Note taking, outlining, writing, speaking, reading, test-taking strategies, time management, and self-awareness are stressed. In addition, the course includes college awareness and motivational activities. The mission of AVID is to ensure that all students will succeed in rigorous curriculum, complete a rigorous college preparatory path, enter mainstream activities of the school, and become educated and responsible participants and leaders in a democratic society.

  • A.V.I.D.

    Advancement Via Individual Determination

    AVID is not just another program…
    at its heart, AVID is a philosophy

    Hold students accountable to the highest standards,
        provide academic and social support,
     and they will rise to the challenge.

    When Mary Catherine Swanson began AVID in 1980, she relied on her fourteen years of teaching experience and research to develop each aspect that was incorporated into the program. Through research and collaboration with postsecondary faculty, she found the important skills necessary for a student to be successful at the postsecondary level. The Cornell note-taking technique, the strong emphasis on academic reading and writing skills, and student collaboration all came from the diligent research of Mary Catherine and her team of teachers and professors.

    Mary Catherine Swanson started working as a high school English teacher in 1966, teaching remedial to advanced English classes and began teaching at Clairemont High School in San Diego in 1970. In 1974, she and two fellow English teachers developed an academically rigorous English elective course called “Project English” that included academic rigor and an individualized approach to each student’s unique interests. In 1977 Mary Catherine completed her Master’s thesis in education. In her thesis she identified the key components of a program that could help all students succeed in rigorous English classes. These components form the foundation of AVID, including its philosophy, practices, and curriculum and include:

    1. A non-traditional classroom setting meeting the academic and emotional needs of individual students
    2. The teacher as advisor/counselor/student advocate
    3. An emphasis on objective data
    4. The student at the center of decision-making regarding educational goals
    5. A student contract outlining willingness to work and setting learning goals
    6. Student support from teachers and skilled, trained tutors
    7. A curriculum emphasizing academic reading and writing
    8. Reliance on the Socratic process.


    • Teaches skills and behaviors for academic success
    • Provides intensive support with tutorials and strong student/teacher relationships
    • Creates a positive peer group for students
    • Develops a sense of hope for personal achievement gained through hard work and determination
    • Create college readiness skills by providing experiences for future post-secondary decisions

    As a result, policymakers and educators now consider AVID's mission to be an essential strategy for closing the achievement gap, making college access and success available to all students.