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California

Garland School Excels at Motivating Students to Attend College

O'Banion Middle School uses the AVID Excel program to prepare students for college

College isn't always in the cards for every student, especially for those who are struggling to read and pass basic achievement tests.

A school in Garland has come up with a way to help those students not only have a shot at college, but get there and succeed.

It's one of the basic principles of the AVID Excel program, which helps students who speak English as a second language get prepared for college through more than just book work.

"We all know our kids are capable of great things, and some of them don't have that confidence," teacher Melissa Ramirez said.

Teachers said many of their students who speak English as a second language were convinced college wasn't in their future, and they just couldn't do it.

AVID Excel aims to change that.

The teachers become cheerleaders, of a sort, to encourage students. There's lots of group work and students have to stand up and lead discussions.

"I used to be very shy, but standing there I'm more confident now. I'm not shy," student Genesis Vidal said.

O'Banion Middle School has implemented AVID Excel for several years, and now at least 88 percent of the students have gone to college.

The gains are so strong, other schools are scrambling to follow O'Banion's lead to create an environment where everyone can excel.

AVID Excel was designed in California and, while it's aimed at students who speak English as a second language, there are AVID programs open to all students, to help ensure they go to college too.

They have that program at O'Banion Middle School, as well, and they're seeing similar success.

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