Credit Recovery vs. Dropout Recovery

EdWeek recently ran an article about a few latecomers to online credit-recovery: Boston, Chicago, and New York.
Online credit recovery has been around for 15 years—both virtual offerings (e.g., early movers like Virtual High School, Internet Academy) and computer-based instruction (e.g., NovaNet).
Online credit recovery is a great option for a student that struggled in one or two courses.  But for a student that has dropped out or is over-aged/under-credited (i.e., 2 years behind), a more robust strategy is called for—let’s call that dropout recovery rather than credit recovery.
In a February blog, I noted that two school models combine the benefits of an individual progress model featuring online curriculum in a high support environment where student progress is monitored, tutoring is available, and guidance is provided.  AdvancePath (disc: I’m on the board) and Performance Learning Centers (disc: former grantee & client) both have a great track record of getting kids back on track for graduation.  Students in AdvancePath increase the rate of credit accumulation by 300-400% (i.e., from passing one course to passing four or more courses) because they come to school, work at their own pace, and get the help they need.
AdvancePath and PLCs are not alone.  A group of nine organizations with almost 300 schools formed the Alternative High School Initiative.  They have been serving kids that called BS on traditional high schools for more than a decade with great success.
When congress finally reauthorizes ESEA, they’ll need to take the AHSI schools into consideration and be careful not to penalize folks serving the kids that need help the most.  For example, only considering on-time grad rates creates a disincentive for schools serving kids that have dropped one or two years behind.  The credit accumulation rate that AdvancePath tracks may be a useful additional statistic for all schools, not just those working in dropout prevention.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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