Achievement Solutions Teams (AST)
AST provide academic peer coaching focused on personal and systemic change to decrease achievement disparities. In partnership with Ann Arbor Public Schools, AST are the third stage of the Youth Senate’s Youth-Powered Solutions™ initiative to increase academic success based on their two year, youth-led research project on student achievement disparities, Leap the Gap (link to report).
AST is facilitated by AmeriCorp VISTAs who are college graduates trained to provide a balanced environment of structure and freedom to foster each student’s personal ownership of his or her education. VISTAs, who are government sponsored volunteers for one to two years, serve as role models and provide the continuity of a regular staff person who builds relationships with students over the school year. VISTAs also support peer coaches who are trained to maximize positive peer support and results-driven tasks on a daily and weekly basis while upholding the utmost level of confidentiality.
In safe environments, AST teens share experiences, identify problems and solutions, define time-sensitive goals, complete self-assessments and implement steps for success. By the end of year two of the AST pilot in Ann Arbor Public Schools, 75 percent of students’ failing grades from the beginning of the semester were raised to passing grades. AST turns negative peer pressure into positive peer support while:
- Building lasting friendships
- Developing personal strategies to overcome achievement barriers
- Sharing concerns and ideas to create better learning environments
- Developing proposals for change to present to school administrators and faculty
- Working toward accomplishing their personal goals and helping others do the same.