AVID Success and Test Scores

I just read this post from John Spencer's blog. It is basically is about how standardized tests with low level questions (See Bloom or Costa) are leading students to fail. Then, I immediately thought about this article, from the St. Paul (Mn) Pioneer Press, that my assistant principal showed me (that someone, anonmously, left on her desk). This states that the AVID program is not getting the desired results for "student achievement." I'm interpreting a bit, but I'm taking student achievement to mean standardized test scores.

AVID doesn't fit into the accepted model of standardized test scores.

This should not come to anyone as a surprise. The AVID program (see the AVID website or my classroom page) is bigger than a standardized test score. The program does give students support on understanding academic areas. This is in the form of tutors twice a week. They bring questions that they have from items they are struggling with.

But it's the questions. The Questions!!! Exactly what Mr. Spencer was writing about his blog post. Low level standardized test questions will never accurately measure what happens in the AVID classroom. You can't measure the success of any AVID classroom by a standardized test score.

Each of my AVID students could rewrite just about every standardized test question into a higher level (evaluate, create, speculate, hypothesize, apply) question that would more accurately measure what they know.

I couldn't have been more proud yesterday. I invited teachers into my classroom to talk about college (again, AVID is bigger than just a classroom, and this is middle school). The teachers talked, passionately and honestly about college and life, and the students questioned. Here's just a couple of questions that I remember from the sessions:
  • How do you make it through college when you said that your friends and roommates were dropping out? What was your motivation?
  • What would your life and career be like if you didn't make it through college?
  • How did you balance working, friends, students and studying?
  • What advice would you give to middle school students starting to think about college?
And we, for some reason, always have a question about ice cream when we have guest speakers:
  • Describe your favorite ice cream flavor and tell us why it is your favorite.
I love traditions.

Here's my point:

Most of what happens in the AVID classroom won't show up on a test. It won't decide if they pass a class or not. It's bigger than that. I've got 75 students thinking about college and the future that otherwise wouldn't. I've got 75 students who can ask the questions that need to be asked. I've got 75 students who can ask better questions than the test writers. I've got 75 students who are DOING! Stuff that in your scantron.


  1. You get an #evaluatethat nomination from me. I predict that #evaluatethat nominations will last longer and be more valuable in the long run than a favorable article by a PiPress writer.


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