This much we know: Credit recovery– “a structured means for students to earn credit in order to graduate”–is becoming more common in high schools across the country, according to a new report from NSBA’s Center for Public Education. What we don’t know about the courses–which can be online, in person, or a mixture of the two–is, well, a lot. And that’s because the programs vary so much from district to district.
One certainty: Credit recovery is growing, representing $500 million out of a $2 billion digital education market, according to a 2010 study. The Center conducted the report in part to give school board members and the public more information and open a conversation about the related issues.
“Unfortunately, credit recovery is a subject where there are far more questions than there are answers,” the report says. “The wide variation in program structure could be a good thing, encouraging creative solutions to the dropout problem. However, since so little is known, we cannot identify what works and what doesn’t. Because the concept of credit recovery is so varied and its implementation so malleable, there is little sense of its impact and effectiveness, leaving many in education with questions.”
Among the most basic questions: Is credit recovery effective? On one hand, proponents argue that it allows struggling students a second chance in which they direct the pace of instruction. However, skeptics wonder how much students are learning and whether some districts use the programs simply to increase their graduation numbers.