Getting kids to graduate high school is one challenge, but setting up students to succeed beyond graduation is a whole different animal.

The college preparatory program Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, is focused on what comes after students walk across the stage and turn their tassels at commencement. The nonprofit promotes college and career readiness to more than 1.5 million students across 44 states in about 5,000 schools every year.

The AVID program has been offered at O’Farrell Charter’s Middle School Academy since the 1990s, so co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn brought in Chuy Gomez, an AVID student at O’Farrell, plus AVID CEO Sandy Husk and Jill Anderson, the principal of O’Farrell, to talk about the tools students need to succeed beyond graduation.

Husk said it’s important to give students the confidence, not just the academic training, they need to move forward in the real world.

“I want those kids walking across the stage feeling fully empowered and prepared,” Husk said. “But it’s the whole package, it’s not just the credits.”

Lewis and Kohn also discuss San Diego Unified School District’s unusually high graduation rates, and the online credit recovery courses that are helping drive the boom.

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Number of the Week

One-third: That’s the fraction of local students who end up enrolling in the San Diego Community College District. It’s also the number of students who can’t enroll in college-level reading, forcing them to take remedial courses.

What’s Working

AVID is what’s working, and this week’s guests explain how and why.

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    This article relates to: Education, Good Schools For All

    Written by Adriana Heldiz

    Adriana Heldiz is Voice of San Diego’s Assistant Digital Manager. She makes videos and helps manage the organization’s online presence. Adriana can be reached at

    michael-leonard subscriber

    This article is not marked as an opinion, seems to be a "news" story, the author is not identified in any way, the email is sponsored by a school company (Altus Schools) and another charter school has a prominent ad at the top of this story.  Possible conflict of interest warning.

    bgetzel subscriber

    The public high schools generally do a very poor job of preparing kids for independent living. Few graduating 18  & 19 year olds know how to manage personal finances, find an apartment, prepare for a job interview, etc. If AVID deals with that - great! What about the non-AVID students? 

    bcat subscriber


    The AVID program appears to be a program to support those that need support... not a program that provides universal training with equal access to all.  It ASSUMES that certain demographics need more help than others.  That is not always the case.

    bcat subscriber


    American society does not have a clear standard for "preparing kids for independent living".  This is NOT a universal federal value or standard.  It is NOT even a state (of California) value or standard.

    I think it is really tough to figure out what a +18 year old needs to know to survive in our society.  It varies from city to city.  Is it really SDUSD's job to help a child figure out:  how to pay for rent, whether they can afford to live in San Diego, how to avoid getting into crippling debt from credit cards / home mortgage / college?  How do those skills vary from Ramona to La Jolla to Chula Vista to Downtown to even Imperial Valley?

    Although I agree with the implication that these are important skills, we can't even decide on whether our nation should support state's rights or have federal standards; how can we possibly agree upon the skills necessary to live in Kansas, Alaska, Rhode Island, or California?

    Perhaps these skills should be taught in their own communities:

    * Family

    * Church

    * Non-profits like:  YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs

    I suggest that only in those intimate social circles can a small group of people agree upon what they should teach their kids.

    bgetzel subscriber

    @bcat @bgetzel Is it too much for public schools to provide a class in personal finance for high school seniors? The specific circumstances may vary from city to city by the skills to anayze the situations are universal. How to do a household budget, figuring out how much one must earn to live at a certain level, how to do a resume, how to interview for a job, etc. are necessary skills, and the need is immediate if the student is not going on to higher education.