The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

AVID Plans For Upcoming Year

As the year winds down, the administration is determining the sections of each class that will be offered next year. While most courses, like Survey of Composition and Literature, or freshman English, are determined by the size of the incoming class, programs like AVID and other support classes fluctuate more on student need and the school’s budget than core classes do.

For the past two years, the school has offers five sections of AVID—one section each for ninth, 11th and 12th grades, and two sections for 10th grade. This means that at the end of last year, two sophomore classes consolidated into a single junior class.

“We were cutting back for all funds,” Assistant Principal Perla Pasallo said. “Everyone was. We were watching our budgets.”

Because each class section can have no more than 35 students, the AVID class of ‘14 diminished significantly. While some students did not maintain the required 2.0 GPA to stay in the program, others were reallocated to support programs that could better fit their needs, such as double period skills classes.

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“Some students were qualified, and it came down to choosing who was more on track academically,” AVID Coordinator Joanne Miyahara said.

Years ago, the school had seven sections of AVID, two in each grade except ninth which had one. Over the last three years, between budgets tightening and students moving into other support classes like skills or supervised study, two sections have been cut.

“It was excruciatingly painful, the whole thing,” Pasallo said.

The question now becomes what will happen to the sections of AVID next year. According to Pasallo, administration will provide departments with “boxes”—a listing of what periods each course will be offered—during the first week of May. This means administration will have made the decision for AVID within the next few weeks.

“It’s one big old jigsaw,” Pasallo said.

These sections, which have been determined by administration during meetings through most of the spring, cannot be determined for sure until numbers freeze and concrete information is available about next year’s students.

“They look at all the data available on incoming freshman and determine the best place for them,” Miyahara said. “What support will give them the best chance of success in high school?”

While it is unlikely that any sections of AVID will be cut or added, AVID and administration have been working to decide whether one section of next year’s 11th grade AVID students will be dropped, or if two sections of 11th AVID will be open next year. The second option would mean that only one section of AVID would be available for the sophomore class next year instead of the two that were available this year and last year.

“I’m thinking it’ll probably be two 11th grade classes for next year but we have to wait until we see all of the numbers stop moving,” Pasallo said.

Miyahara also said it felt like the “status quo” right now to have two sections of junior AVID sections and reduce sophomore AVID to one section. Pasallo agrees this is the most likely course of action as of late April. While this is good news for current AVID sophomores, this means fewer freshman who were not in AVID last year will be able to join the program this year.

Mirella Acevedo, a member of Keren Robertson’s second period AVID class, joined the program this year. After taking skills classes last year, she says this year has been a “major step up” in her academic rigour. Now that she has the grades and classes for the program, she says she is on track with all of her A-G college requirements. Mirella says AVID has been the opportunity she needed.

“I was too shy to ask questions in class, but I’m more confident asking tutors,” Mirella said. “As far as college goes I wasn’t even thinking about it before, I just wanted to get good grades. But seeing [senior] Jonathan Yu [an AVID tutor] and all of the options he has makes me want to work harder.”

Should AVID move forward the way it is currently expected to, it can be seen as a glass half empty or a glass half full. No sections are being cut, but no sections are being added either; the sophomore class does not have to consolidate into a single section, but not as many freshman will be offered the opportunity.

“Last year was definitely harder,” Miyahara said. “I don’t think we’re going to lose any, but there’s more interest than can be served, at least at the freshman and sophomore level. How do we choose who to best serve? Where do we put the resources in?”

According to Pasallo, each spring administration starts with “one big beautiful pot of money” to determine class sections.

“You have to be creative sometimes,” Pasallo said. “When there’s leftover funds in the budget, where do we put them, in support programs? AVID? Another section of AP Bio? … At the same time we were blessed to have two sections at one time. A lot of schools don’t even have the program or only have one section at a time. We are very dedicated to the program.”

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