What is AVID?


AVID is an education program designed to boost the academic results of students regardless of their background or disadvantage. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) believes that any student, given the right strategies and support, can be prepared for future study and work opportunities.

With a proven track-record that spans over 37 years, AVID has consistently delivered for millions of students, boasting an average graduation rate of 98%. The program is recognised internationally for its effectiveness and was highlighted in the OECD report, Excellence and Quality in Education (page 141) as a case study of excellence in combining both quality and equity in improving students’ education outcomes.


AVID understands that the first step to improving a student’s performance in education is teaching them how to learn. Rigorous content alone will not bring students success if they are not equipped with the habits and strategies that help them to process and digest information. The AVID program’s main focus is to provide students, teachers and schools with the expertise and support to build this foundational first step. In doing so, students build confidence in their own abilities and become determined to achieve the results of which they are truly capable.


The AVID program was started in 1980 by an English teacher, Mary Catherine Swanson. She wanted to find a solution to the chronic academic underachievement she saw in her class amongst students from diverse and lower socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds. Her strategy was simple: enrol students in rigorous classes and provide them with the support and strategies to learn – and it worked. Out of her first 32 students, all of them went to university (most to prestigious and Ivy League schools). Over the following decades, AVID has continued to calibrate its approach and have built an effective and scalable model of school improvement that has been successfully replicated in close to 6000 sites across the USA.


AVID’s journey in Australia started in 2011, when The Victoria Institute (Victoria University) received Commonwealth HEPPP competitive funding of $1.4m to trial and research the implementation of the program in Australia. The trial proved successful and in 2015 AVID Center (USA) granted AVID Australia the official power to issue AVID licenses to schools in Australia. This is the first time an organisation other than AVID Center was entrusted with this power – a sign of AVID Center’s satisfaction with the fidelity and integrity of the program’s implementation under AVID Australia’s stewardship.

Today, AVID is in 40 sites across Australia (including six in Melbourne’s west), equipping several thousand students with AVID strategies every year. Despite being in its nascent stages, the program has already improved the performance of students, teachers and schools. As a result, the program and staff has received a number of accolades over the last five years.


Since its introduction in Australia, the AVID program and AVID educators have received a number of awards.

  • Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Principal of the Year 2012
  • UniSuper and Campus Review Award for Excellence in Innovation 2014
  • Winner of a ChooseMaths 2016 Teaching Award
  • Finalist in Queensland College of Teachers Excellence Award 2016
  • Western Australian Primary Deputy Principal of the Year 2016
  • AVID Higher Education educator received the Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning at the Australian Awards for University Teaching 2016
  • VU Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Knowledge Exchange 2014

Contact us

P: +61 3 9919 7832
E: AVID.Australia@vu.edu.au
W: AVIDAustralia.edu.au