How online learning is changing credit recovery

As learning becomes more accessible, credit recovery programs are evolving

credit-recoveryOnline learning is playing an increasingly important part in credit recovery for students with a variety of academic needs, according to a new report from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).

Credit recovery solutions often lower the bar for student performance as a result of pressure on school administrators and policymakers to “fix” graduation rates, authors Allison Powell, Verena Roberts, and Susan Patrick note.

Many online credit recovery solutions tout low costs but require only low levels of teacher involvement and often don’t use much rigor when asking students to demonstrate proficiency, according to the report.

Here’s where competency-based education comes in. Strong CBE programs will help students focus on their skill gaps, catch up, and stay on track for graduation. This intervention occurs before a student has failed an entire course.

New Hampshire has what the authors call one of the boldest CBE efforts. The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School is a charter school that also serves as the state’s virtual school. Its supplemental online classes include 62 “competency recovery” courses let students take an entire course or allow them to focus just on the competencies they did not pass. Students work with their parents and teacher to determine their individual learning pace.

“Competency-based learning gives students the opportunity to complete lessons that demonstrate their mastery of content as well as the support they need if they are having difficulty with specific content,” the authors wrote. “A true competency-based approach requires the students to advance upon demonstrated mastery—often through a ‘performance’ of demonstrating
the competencies and creating evidence of the deeper knowledge, skills and dispositions acquired.”

“Research shows that more than 75 percent of school districts use blended and online learning for expanded course offerings and credit recovery,” said Allison Powell, iNACOL Vice President for New Learning Models. “The case studies in this paper provide guidance to educators in helping over-age, under-credited students to catch up and get back on track to graduate.”

Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL, said, “Millions of students are still not completing high school, causing them to face increasing challenges throughout life. When students have struggled, online learning is a tool that can open up new pathways to success—students can find alternative ways to learn and to graduate, while also developing new skills for success in life.”

To read the report in its entirety and for more details about the state of online learning for credit recovery, click here.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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