Laura Lyman, a 10th grade student at Cascade High School in Leavenworth, plans to be the first in her family to attend college. She knows how to organize. She is motivated. She believes college education will have positive impacts on her future. The data says she’s right.

Research from the Washington Roundtable projects more than 740,000 job openings in our state in just five years, from 2016 — 2021. Those job openings will come thanks to a retiring baby boom generation, a diverse economy and a range of new jobs being created. That’s great news for high school students thinking about their futures.

“Opportunity will abound in Washington, and we want to ensure our kids are ready for the great jobs being creating here,” says Neil Strege, vice president of the Washington Roundtable, a nonprofit policy organization backed by senior executives from the state’s major employers.

According to the research, most of the jobs coming to Washington will be filled by workers with a post-high school credential. In fact, a credential is essential, Strege says. It can come in many forms, such as a degree, industry certificate, or apprenticeship. All are signals of labor-market readiness.

But, right now, just 41% of Washington’s students are projected to earn a post-high school credential by age 26. The Washington Roundtable’s goal: Increase that number to 70% by the high school class of 2030.

Thoughtful planning and preparation are key for students, Strege says. Wraparound services and innovative support programs play an important role in helping students plan for and complete a credential, particularly for first generation college goers like Lyman.

Enter AVID (or Advancement Via Individual Determination), a proven way of teaching that prepares students for postsecondary education and career.

At Cascade High School in Leavenworth, AVID has supported Lyman as she lays out a road map for her future. One of the great things about the AVID program is that it demystifies and breaks down common barriers that many students encounter as they prepare for college or other post-high school training. Students are better able to envision their own success.

“For many first-generation college goers, there are many systemic barriers in schools, such as access to rigorous courses like Advanced Placement classes. A common social-emotional barrier is when students don’t believe in themselves,” says Dr. Edward Lee Vargas, executive vice president of the AVID center. “AVID helps students see their own potential, by providing both rigor and support.”

The postsecondary system is complicated to navigate. AVID helps students develop confidence and skills to complete requirements for college, advocate for themselves, and use their own voice, Vargas says.

Lyman says she benefits from supports available through her AVID elective that are designed to instill confidence and hone skills needed for success in postsecondary education.

“AVID is teaching me note taking, to be motivated on my own, and that I’m never alone even when it feels like I am,” says Lyman.


AVID supports achievement

The AVID approach is based on the tenets of helping students realize their potential, teaching academic and social skills not taught in other classes and guiding students to develop a sense of hope and personal achievement through effort and determination. It’s a student-centered postsecondary preparatory system implemented in more than 6,000 schools nationwide and in 392 sites in Washington. Fifty-two percent of Washington AVID students receive free and reduced-cost lunch, and most are students of color.

For Cascade High School, AVID has been a slam dunk, says Malia Renner-Singer, one of two AVID teachers at Cascade and a 2020 Regional Teacher of the Year.

In Renner-Singer’s classes they talk about mindset. She lets students know they can enroll in an advanced class, get a scholarship and accomplish anything they put their minds to.

“The overall goal for every teacher at the high school level is to let students know they have as many opportunities as possible,” explains Renner-Singer. Everyone in the AVID group who graduated last year from Cascade and went on to postsecondary education received a scholarship of some kind.


Last year’s valedictorian at Cascade High School, also an AVID student, is attending Carleton College in Minnesota, practically for free, says Renner-Singer.

Support through AVID helps students know that educators care about them, believe in them and want them to have good choices in their lives. Postsecondary training is crucial to those choices and critical to their ability to succeed in the future, says Vargas.

“Students need to be able to compete in an economy that can provide a rewarding quality of life for them, their families and communities,” Vargas says. As AVID helps students discover new possibilities, students begin to reframe how they see themselves, and the opportunities before them.

“AVID provides a community around each student,” says Vargas, “That isn’t just about learning content. It’s about teachers seeing each student’s potential, and bringing out that potential, including the will and the skill to succeed in college, career and in life.”

Partnership for Learning, the education foundation of the Washington Roundtable, brings together business leaders and education partners to improve our state’s education system, so Washington students are ready to pursue the career pathways of their choice. Learn more at