What Parents Need to Know About Credit Recovery

Credit recovery is used to explain a wide variety of educational strategies and programs that give high school learners who have failed a class the chance to redo coursework or retake a course through alternate means, thereby avoiding failure and earning educational credit.

Online credit recovery was introduced over a decade ago, and it has since become a trend in education and a cash cow for education companies. School districts have experienced soaring graduation rates, leaving companies competing to sell virtual courses to districts across the nation.

The problem is that credit recovery courses lack quality control. Typically the content is not rigorous, and, according to critics, these courses serve as a poor substitute for in-class instruction. In a rush to raise graduation rates, schools put the learners who most need educator intervention the most in front of a computer screen, leaving them to their devices.

In some cases, learners are being “pushed through the system” and earning educational credit for having passed mediocre substitutes for the real thing. Also, a credit-recovery program may or may not be well aligned with the course’s learning expectations or assignments that a learner has failed.

Some credit-recovery options may be customized to address the distinct learning needs of a specific learner, some may consist of intensive oversight and support from an educator, and some may be hybrids—learners may work part of the time with an educator or specialist.

Also, online programs usually provide highly detailed info that teachers would not obtain in a traditional educational setting. For instance, software applications may track precisely how long learners worked through a problem or how many attempts it took a learner to complete a learning activity—data that teachers may use to identify specific learner-learning needs or deficits.

There is more good news; competency-based credit recovery programs, in which learners must show mastery of a subject to enroll, are beneficial. These programs, based on mastery instead of completion, show a positive direction for online credit recovery.

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