While the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston, Texas, has a strong early intervention program that is successful in keeping more kids from failing classes, the district still uses credit recovery as an element in its overall student graduation plans.
Students who have failed a course may take credit recovery with Aventa’s online courses, or they may be required to retake a class in the traditional way. The choice is sometimes up to the student, but the teacher, the counselor, and the parents all have a voice in the decision. If a student simply missed too much of the course, he or she likely will be required to retake it in a traditional setting. But other students can benefit greatly from online credit recovery, says Sheri Alford, director of educational technology for Spring Branch ISD.
“We like it because it’s a continuous enrollment,” says Alford; students can begin taking the online course as soon as they’re in trouble.
The district gives each student in an online credit recovery course a liaison—a teacher who can help when that student hits a snag. “The liaison is also the person who says, ‘I notice you didn’t log in yesterday,’ or, ‘You were only online for so long, and you’re not progressing.’ So the liaison can provide one-to-one help,” Alford says.
The liaison also sets up tutorials. For example, if the liaison is an English teacher and the student is struggling with a certain portion of an online math course, the liaison can set up a tutorial with a math teacher.
Alford says Aventa is far superior to a prior credit recovery program the district was using. That program, from another vendor, was not as rigorous, and students had figured out how to manipulate it without actually learning anything.
The Tucson Unified School District in Arizona is another district that is offering online credit recovery to students. If a student is a junior or senior, has failed a class, and needs those credits to graduate, the student is eligible to take an online credit recovery course free of charge.
Stuart Baker, Tucson USD’s coordinator for online learning, likes the Aventa program because the focus is on the skills a student learns, not on the amount of time he or she spends on the class. Additionally, Baker says, the speed at which a student learns is entirely up to the student, not up to the online class.