- The American Institutes for Research and the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research have released key findings about algebra credit recovery courses as part of an ongoing study of online versus face-to-face credit recovery models.
- Among the key findings are that online credit recovery courses focus exclusively on second-semester algebra topics (compared to 50% in face-to-face courses), and online course content follows a conventional sequence, whereas face-to-face instruction includes 30% of content that seems to be sequenced haphazardly.
- Students in online credit recovery courses had lower grades — fewer than one-third got a C or higher, compared to more than half of their peers in face-to-face classes — and while students in both types of courses scored low on end-of-course exams, students who took the online course scored significantly lower.
Credit recovery courses are being embraced as an important way to increase high school graduation rates. For students who do not succeed in traditional, semester-long courses, sometimes even more than once, an accelerated credit recovery course can help them get back on track for graduation. In Los Angeles Unified School District, a credit recovery program has been a major driver in its increasing graduation rates.
The problem is that credit recovery courses are rarely as rigorous as the courses they are replicating. Districts have to be careful to maintain high standards for students, rather than offering them an alternative that takes little work and still gets them the credits they need. In Los Angeles, the credit recovery program is getting an overhaul, following complaints that the courses students took through it won’t even count for state university credit.