Pioneer High School’s thriving college-going culture and strong academic curriculum has put the Whittier Union campus in the national spotlight, earning distinction as a National Demonstration School for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges.
Pioneer is the second school in the District to receive the honor, held by fewer than 3 percent of AVID schools across the nation. Santa Fe High School, an AVID campus for more than 20 years, was named an AVID Demonstration site in 2001.
“AVID is not skin deep at Pioneer High School. It is bone deep,” AVID representatives wrote in their validation report. “AVID is a way of life at PHS. A common vision that all students can graduate college and career ready allows for every action to be student centered and productive. Rigor and high achievement is not offered to students. It is expected, resulting in remarkable data, successful alumni and a culture of high expectations.”
Pioneer’s AVID program began in 2001 with one section of 18 AVID students. It has since grown to include nine sections with 301 students, or about 20 percent of the student population, permeating the school campus, from the PHS Parent Center and Expanded Horizons Office, which supports all school programs, to the classrooms and media center.
The school was lauded for pioneering instructional practices, having 84 percent AVID-trained teachers and supporting a culture in which 68 percent of AVID seniors have taken Advanced Placement and honors courses, 100 percent of students are on target to graduate and 99 percent of those students have completed a-g courses for college entrance – compared with 53.5 percent for non-AVID students.
“Our success is due to the efforts of the entire Titan family, including our students, parents, teachers and all of our staff who have risen to the challenge of working collaboratively to foster a college-going environment for the benefit of all students,” Principal Lilia Bozigian said. “We are so proud of this honor and are excited to continue growing our AVID program to empower students to reach their potential.”
AVID students receive support through a rigorous curriculum and structured tutorials. AVID elective teachers support AVID students by providing academic training, managing their tutorials, working with faculty and parents, and by helping students develop long-range academic and personal plans.
The school provides students with services to ensure college is in students’ grasps, including offering college tours and counselor visits, providing scholarship and financial aid information, partnering with Rio Hondo on college and career advisement opportunities, and offering college and advanced math courses on campus, as well as an academic Saturday school.
Pioneer – which is also an AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction – is in an elite category among the approximately 5,600 AVID schools in 44 states, the District of Columbia and 16 countries and U.S. territories.
It will maintain its status as a demonstration school for three years – the longest term possible – and will serve as a model for teachers and administrators from schools across the country that are implementing or refining AVID programs.
“Pioneer High School has worked incredibly hard to build its flagship program and develop a culture of excellence to reach this milestone, all with the goal of helping our students pursue their college dreams,” Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Martin Plourde. “It has been a long time coming for Pioneer, and we are proud of the Titans for providing high-quality instruction and raising the bar for student achievement.”