College readiness: a long view from Boise

More than 1,500 Boise School District students took Advanced Placement courses in 2012. This adds up to 42 percent of the district’s juniors and seniors, and represents more than a threefold increase from 2001.

One of the secrets, say district officials, is AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, a system designed to encourage more junior high and high school students to go to four-year college.

Boise’s AP numbers — and its seven-year process of implementing AVID — drew notice in a recent blog by Rob Gira, executive vice president of the AVID Center.

An interesting point in Gira’s post, a question-and-answer with Boise school officials, is this response from Boise superintendent Don Coberly.

Asked what it takes to increase college and career readiness, Coberly offered these insights:

“First, strengthen your AP offerings overall and provide AP courses outside the core. Start the work in elementary and work forward. Also, be patient and let the process work. Additionally, school districts have to get better at messaging with their communities, such as using social media to interact with them, to get the word out so they understand why we are making this strong push. We need to communicate and get the word out and share enough so that people get our ‘why.’”

The appeal for patience comes amidst a serious push to improve Idaho’s  college attendance rate. The State Board of Education wants 60 percent of Idahoans, ages 25 to 34, to have a degree or postsecondary certificate by 2020. The Treasure Valley Education Partnership — a consortium of business, education and nonprofit group leaders — wants 80 percent of the valley’s high school graduates to go on to postsecondary school, by 2016.

Coberly’s advice — allowing the process to work, and starting in elementary school — is a longer-term proposition.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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