AVID History

AVID History
Click the heading to learn about AVID's history, which dates back to 1980 when it was created by English teacher Mary Catherine Swanson

...from the national AVID site.


When Mary Catherine Swanson began AVID in 1980, she relied on her fourteen years of teaching experience and research to develop each aspect that was incorporated into the program. Through research and collaboration with postsecondary faculty, she found the important skills necessary for a student to be successful at the postsecondary level. The Cornell note-taking technique, the strong emphasis on academic reading and writing skills, and student collaboration all came from the diligent research of Mary Catherine and her team of teachers and professors.


Mary Catherine Swanson started working as a high school English teacher in 1966, teaching remedial to advanced English classes and began teaching at Clairemont High School in San Diego in 1970. In 1974, she and two fellow English teachers developed an academically rigorous English elective course called “Project English” that included academic rigor and an individualized approach to each student’s unique interests. In 1977 Mary Catherine completed her Master’s thesis in education. In her thesis she identified the key components of a program that could help all students succeed in rigorous English classes.


These components form the foundation of AVID, including its philosophy, practices and curriculum and include:

  1. A non-traditional classroom setting meeting the academic and emotional needs of individual students
  2. The teacher as advisor/counselor/student advocate
  3. An emphasis on objective data
  4. The student at the center of decision-making regarding educational goals
  5. A student contract outlining willingness to work and setting learning goals
  6. Student support from teachers and skilled, trained tutors
  7. A curriculum emphasizing academic reading and writing
  8. Reliance on the Socratic process.


For more information about AVID's history, including a timeline of important milestones, visit avid.org.