Wiscape Banner


Main Office

School of Education
353 Education Building
1000 Bascom Mall
MadisonWI  53706-1326

Tel: 608/265-6342

Email: wiscape-info@education.wisc.edu
or by contact form


Facebook logo Twitter logo


AVID/TOPS: Assessing the Outcomes of a Private-Public Pre-College Program

Project Leads

Sara Goldrick-Rab (BIO)

Principal Investigator
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Eleni Schirmer (BIO) 
Project Assistant, WISCAPE

University of Wisconsin-Madison


AVID/TOPS, a program coordinated jointly by the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, aims to prepare students in the “academic middle” for four-year college eligibility and success. It began in 2007 as a pilot program at Madison East High School and the Boys & Girls Club and has since been implemented throughout the district. In the fall of 2012, MMSD expanded AVID to the district’s middle schools.

WISCAPE has partnered with MMSD and the Boys & Girls Club to conduct an assessment of AVID/TOPS. The research team examines the impact of the program on students’ preparation for postsecondary education, focusing on three key areas: academic preparation, student engagement, and college knowledge. The team also works closely with AVID/TOPs staff to identify areas of interest and continuously improve the program. WISCAPE produced the initial cohort report in October 2010 and has since produced two program reports. In 2013, WISCAPE began conducting an evaluation of the AVID middle school program.

This project complements ongoing WISCAPE work on postsecondary access, persistence, and success. If the AVID/TOPS program is highly successful in helping underrepresented students improve their educational outcomes and enroll in postsecondary institutions, results from this study will potentially help policymakers and educational professionals construct policy and programs to improve access to postsecondary education. The project may also help inform research on the challenges and opportunities of public-private partnerships in education, as well as provide insight for researchers and practitioners interested in best practices for evaluation.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a nationally recognized program focusing on acceleration rather than remediation for students in the “academic middle” (i.e. students with a GPA of 2.0 to 3.5) who have college ambitions and a willingness to work hard. Participating students enroll in an AVID elective course, which helps them to excel within the school and prepares them to apply and enroll in a four-year college. A major goal of AVID is to ensure that its students not only enroll in college, but also persist and graduate at a higher rate than their peers.

The TOPS (Teens of Promise) program is a Boys & Girls Club of Dane County initiative developed and implemented to complement the AVID curriculum. Students who apply for the program, sign up for the AVID elective in high school, and make the commitment to be on the college track are offered tutoring, mentorships, paid summer job internships, and college field trips.

Related Publications

© 2018 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System • Please contact the School of Education External Relations Office with questions, issues or comments about this site.