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BC AVID Pilot Project – Briefing note
The BC AVID Pilot Project is testing a new way to ensure that more young people have access to post-
secondary education and achieve their full potential in today’s knowledge economy.
Post-secondary education (PSE) plays an increasingly important role in helping individuals achieve social
and economic success. While Canada enjoys one of the highest rates of PSE attainment in the world,
many students experience barriers to accessing higher education, such as a lack of finances or
information. Academic barriers – including a lack of engagement in high school, poor course choices, and
poor academic performance – deter significant proportions of young people from making the transition to
PSE. The BC AVID Pilot Project in British Columbia was developed to test the effect on PSE access of a
Canadian version of a college preparatory program widely adopted in the United States.
The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program focuses on helping “middle-achieving”
students achieve their academic potential. It does this through a combination of high expectations and
intensive supports. Students are expected to enrol in their school’s most challenging courses as well as an
ongoing AVID elective course, in which they are taught the specific academic and organizational skills
they need to succeed in future studies. Students also engage in tutorials and motivational activities
(including field trips to PSE institutions), and receive personal and academic support from their AVID
elective teacher and other trained staff. Research in the U.S. has found AVID students were more likely to
choose advanced-level courses and to enrol in college.
The BC AVID Pilot Project was established in 2003 as a partnership between the BC Ministry of
Education and the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, one of several experiments established by
the Foundation to identify new policies and programs to increase young people’s access to PSE. As a
demonstration project, BC AVID uses an experimental research design, which makes it possible to
observe precisely what happens to equivalently-eligible students with and without the program.
Students from 14 different school sites across the province were randomly assigned to either the AVID
program group or to an equivalent comparison group. Implementation of the BC AVID program is also
being studied at four additional “case study” schools, in more remote regions of the province. In total,
1,522 students are involved in the pilot project.
All students are being tracked through time, and their educational outcomes compared to one another
through data collected from surveys and school records. The main outcomes of interest are graduating
from high school, enrolling in PSE, and persisting through the first year of PSE. Many interim impacts
are also of interest because they are considered precursors to post-secondary enrolment. These include
course selection, grades, and attendance.
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