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Published in Print: October 20, 2008, as 'Credit Recovery'

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'Credit Recovery'

Under pressure to raise graduation rates, some high schools are turning to online courses to help faltering students revive their academic careers and retrieve the credits they need to earn their diplomas.

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As alternatives to remedial lessons, summer school, and other traditional ways of getting struggling high school students back on track, technology-based options for “credit recovery” have been expanding.

“It’s a huge area of growth, especially in the last three years,” says Susan D. Patrick, the president and chief executive officer of the North American Council for Online Learning, a Vienna, Va.-based trade association for online schools.

Most of the new credit-recovery options are online programs offered by virtual schools and commercial curriculum providers. They offer approaches to individualizing instruction that are targeted and packaged for credit recovery, according to the companies and other providers offering the programs.

Credit recovery, or credit retrieval, is usually defined as an in-school opportunity for students to earn academic credits that they have lost, or are about to lose, by failing a regular course.

Michael J. Greene, 18, left, spent the spring in the
Michael J. Greene, 18, left, spent the spring in the "Apex lab" run by teacher Kim Feltner, right, at Pine Ridge High School in the Volusia County, Fla., district.
—Gerardo Mora for Education Week

Such options are available from an array of online-curriculum companies, such as Apex Learning Inc. and Plato Learning Inc., as well as nonprofit providers such as the Orlando-based Florida Virtual School and the Atlanta-based Georgia Virtual School.

Providers say they tailor learning to individual students, by using flexible pacing and schedules, extra practice, frequent assessment, and robust monitoring and reporting on participation and progress, while also allowing openings for personal interaction with teachers.

Their learning-management systems tend to have such typical online tools as e-mail, online assessments, and databases. Courses mirror, and are cross-referenced to, states’ academic standards.

Vol. 02, Issue 02, Page 33

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