Pilot project seeks to increase access to post-secondary education for B.C. youth

November 03, 2008
BM22 Cover Eng

Acting on research that shows approximately 41 per cent of British Columbia youth do not undertake post-secondary studies within two years after high school, the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation has implemented BC AVID, an innovative pilot project to broaden access to post-secondary education, as outlined in an independent study released today by the Foundation and the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC).

The project, involving some 1,500 high school students in 18 B.C. schools, is actively testing interventions that address the fact that lack of academic engagement is often a barrier that prevents youth from proceeding to a post-secondary program after high school. The interventions prepare students for post-secondary studies by placing academically average students in advanced post-secondary preparatory classes while providing them with the skills and supports to achieve success with a curriculum based on writing, inquiry, collaboration and reading.

“Providing students with the academic support and encouragement they need to overcome the barriers to a post-secondary education will be one key to British Columbia’s Campus2020 goal of becoming the best-educated and most literate jurisdiction in North America by 2015,” said Norman Riddell, the Foundation’s executive director and chief executive officer. “The Foundation is pleased to collaborate with the province to implement and test this pilot project, which will, it is hoped, improve educational outcomes. The Foundation also hopes that its research will help policy-makers determine whether or not they have the right tools in place to assist students who are most in need of support to access post-secondary studies.” 

As shown in the BC AVID Early Implementation Report, released today, the project’s interventions aim to convert students from “passive learners” into active classroom contributors and critical thinkers. What makes the project unique in B.C. is that researchers will track participants’ outcomes against those of a comparison group to determine the effectiveness of the interventions and whether or not they improve rates of high-school graduation and post-secondary enrolment.

“Through this project, B.C. educators are working to create a firm basis for future decisions on what works to help students go on to post-secondary education” said Reuben Ford, Director of Research for Education Studies at SRDC. “While there are many education programs aiming to improve student achievement, few are tested in this way to provide credible evidence of their impacts.” 

The BC AVID Early Implementation Report is available on SRDC’s website at www.srdc.org/en_publication_details.asp?id=213

The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation is a private, independent organization created by an act of Parliament in 1998. It encourages Canadian students to strive for excellence and pursue their post-secondary studies. Each year, the Foundation distributes some $340 million in the form of bursaries and scholarships throughout Canada. Since its inception, it has awarded 900,000 bursaries, with a total value of $2.7 billion, to Canadian post-secondary students. The Foundation hired SRDC — a Canadian non-profit research organization that assesses social policies and programs to determine their effectiveness — to undertake the evaluation of the BC AVID Pilot Project.

For more information

Jaime Frederick
Communications Advisor  
Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation
(514) 284-7240 / jfrederick@bm-ms.org 

Christopher Mallory
Publication Production Manager
Social Research and Demonstration Corporation
(613) 789-9695 / cmallory@srdc.org