Credit Recovery: An Intervention that Supports Different Kinds of Learners
The key to students’ success through credit recovery programs is to make interventions early for students. How can you support them?
Credit recovery is not a new idea. Schools have been offering after school and summer school for years so learners who needed to make up a failed course or make room in next year’s schedule for one more course had the time and resources to do so. Credit recovery is often thought of as an intervention, sometimes considered less rigorous than “regular” courses and not something most students need. In a perfect world, students would be identified early and supported during initial instruction to avoid failing courses.
What is credit recovery?
Typically, a credit recovery program provides a way for students to recover credits in a particular course that they were not successful in. Educational institutions offer these programs primarily to help students recover the credits they need to continue their learning path and graduate. This chance supports students in their lives and environment as these paths include college, post-secondary workforce training or joining the workforce. A secondary focus moves credit recovery to credit attainment for students who are transitioning from one school to another, one level to another and for those who want to participate in extracurricular activities that require an academic period.
For schools, credit recovery helps more students graduate. Rather than looking at it from that aspect, what if we focused on the opportunity that credit recovery provides students to explore content and learn what they might have missed the first time?
Who is credit recovery for?
What are the most common reasons why students need to recover credits? Typically, students in grades 6-12 are offered credit recovery with the focus being on students who have failed required courses. Students may need an alternative learning situation for health or medical reasons. These programs work well for high school students who want to graduate on time or middle school students looking for extra support as they transition to high school.
Most credit recovery programs set eligibility requirements. It may be a request (from a student or their family), a recommendation (by a teacher or counselor), or a specific grade(s) that serves as the qualifier. Students may want to qualify for a specific course, may be struggling to obtain a passing grade or need a specific course to help with a career path. There are also instances where gifted students, those who have special needs or may have suffered in a traditional setting can benefit from a credit recovery program. Students in these varied categories have one thing in common – they benefit from personalized learning that meets them where they are and supports their needs.
What are the benefits of credit recovery?
Consider what we know about student self-esteem and its connection to their academic progress. For learners who fall behind, there can be mental health issues, a sense of isolation, or a prolonged sense of struggle or failure. We know timely intervention improves both academic results and student self-esteem. Credit recovery programs can give struggling students a chance to “re-create their road map to success” (Credit Recovery Solutions at International Schooling). Credit recovery programs are often online, which allows learners to progress at their own pace. They can manage both their learning schedule and environment.
What to consider when offering credit recovery
If you are looking to start a credit recovery program or evaluate one that exists, we offer a resource to guide you through the process. Look at the program, consider the students you want to support and the capacity of your system to support a successful program. Capacity considerations include technology, facility planning, the calendar, and staffing. Other topics to consider may include:
- Grading – Will it be pass/fail or full grading?
- Classes – How many classes can a student take at one time?
- Model – Will the program be blended, flipped, virtual, direct instruction, online, or a combination? Will it be independent learning, online courses or include collaborative opportunities? Will unit recovery as well as course recovery be an option?
- Participation requirements – Which students will be allowed to participate?
- Curriculum – Will advanced courses, required courses or both be offered? (Check out the Curriculum Rubric on pages 15 and 16.)
- Success metrics – How will success be measured – graduation rates, completion rates, attendance, etc.?
- Time – Students need time to complete the coursework. Will it be before, during or after school? During the summer, over holidays or on the weekend?
What are you thinking now?
Credit recovery may seem like a misnomer for a program that helps students get back on track for graduation, find an alternative to the traditional classroom setting or move ahead academically. Getting students identified early for any of those reasons, any sign of risk, means that plans (intervention plans) can be set up early and tailored to their unique needs. It may be about catching learners before they need credit recovery.
There is an idea that if educators do this right, credit recovery programs may fade away. Right now though, there are students who do need a program that provides an alternative learning model or setting, one that meets them where they are, with their needs and helps move them forward toward graduation and career paths.
Edmentum Courseware offers educators’ best-in-class online curriculum with over 400 engaging courses. Courses address a wide range of educational needs, including original credit, credit recovery, career readiness, college readiness, and higher education options. Our Courseware enhances the way educators utilize data, tracking progress to course completion and content mastery and saving valuable time to ensure program goals are met. Whether students are working at grade level, falling behind, or require advanced options, Edmentum’s curriculum is customizable to meet the needs and pace of individual learners.
This article was written by Kathy S Dyer.
Kathy Dyer is an innovative educator who has served as a teacher, principal, district assessment coordinator, and adjunct professor. She has a passion for learner-centered learning—opportunities for learners of all ages to learn with, from, and for one another. Believing that all learners can learn more and grow more, Kathy is passionate about helping schools and educators get better at what they do.
Kathy combines a deep understanding of adult learning with a passion for collaborative problem solving to help school systems improve student outcomes. Her work has been featured on eSchool News, Education Dive, Ed Circuit, Teach. Learn. Grow. blog, and Getting Smart.