Substance use is an important, preventative health problem among adolescents and is highly correlated with school performance.
AVID is a college-preparatory program that targets high school students in the academic middle (GPA of 2.0-3.5) from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, and places them alongside high-performing students in a college-preparatory environment. By mixing middle and higher performing students together, AVID may shift the social groups that develop in schools. This may introduce high-performing students to more risky peers and encourage more substance use.
We sought to test whether greater exposure to AVID students was associated with increased substance use for high-performing high school students in Los Angeles.
This is a secondary analysis of data from a randomized trial of AVID conducted in 3 high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. All incoming 9th grade students attending the 3 study schools with a middle school GPA of 3.6 or higher were eligible to participate. Students returning a signed parental consent form and student assent form completed computer assisted self-interviews at the beginning and end of 9th grade (N=X). Surveys assessed demographics, self-reported substance use (alcohol, marijuana, and e-cigarette use) and the number of peers in participants’ social networks who participated in the AVID program. Linear and logistic regressions test whether the number of AVID peers in participants’ social networks was associated with each substance use behavior, controlling for baseline demographics, school, and substance use.
The number of AVID students in participants’ social networks was not significantly associated with any substance use behavior.
This study suggests that exposure to AVID students does not pose a health risk to high-performing students, and should allay fears related to potential unintended consequences of AVID’s expansion.