For Immediate Release: January 12, 2015

Contact: Rachel Strauch-Nelson, 608-663-1903

Students in the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and the Boys & Girls Club’s Teens of Promise (TOPS) programs are achieving higher GPAs, enrolling in more advanced placement and honors courses and missing less days of school, according to an analysis of the programs completed by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab. African American students and low-income students, in particular, saw increases in core and cumulative GPAs.

“As we work to ensure that every child graduates ready for college, career and community, AVID/TOPS positions many of our students for success,” Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said. “We are so grateful to all of our AVID staff and the Boys and Girls Club for this partnership, which continues to show consistently positive results for our students.”

AVID is a college readiness system that includes an elective course focused on organizational strategies, study skills, critical thinking, tutorial support, and career and college awareness. In MMSD, AVID is partnered with the TOPS program through the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. TOPS provides full-time student coordinators in each of the four high schools, summer internships, after-school mentors, funding for more than 40 tutors during the elective course, and a variety of college and career field trips.

The program started in 2007 at East High School with 28 students. It is now in 11 of the district’s middle schools and the four traditional high schools, serving more than 1,200 students. As the program has expanded, there have been consistently positive results.

 “We are happy to partner with MMSD and to work side by side with teachers in the classroom to support the academic needs of the young people enrolled in this program,” said Michael Johnson, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. “We are excited to see another year of positive gains and we will continue to work with teachers, businesses and other community partners in a collaborative spirit to help young people achieve at their highest level.”

“This year’s evaluation employs a very rigorous design that compares the academic outcomes of AVID/TOPS program participants to those of very similar students. Our approach is more conservative than in prior years and yet the positive effects persist. They are especially evident for students who participate in the program for all four years of high school,” said Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, UW-Madison professor of educational policy studies and sociology and the founding director of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.      

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab’s report found:

- AVID/TOPS increases the cumulative and core GPAs of high school students, particularly for low-income students, African-American students, low-income students of color, and male students of color. Core GPA is the grade point average for core academic subjects: Math, English, Science, and Social Studies.

- AVID/TOPS increases rates of enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors courses for some students, including all focal subgroups.  The program also increases the grades earned by low-income students in those courses.

- The AVID/TOPS program improves students’ attendance records and reduces the number of days they miss school. The fraction of students receiving behavioral referrals is also reduced.

To read the full report, visit