Distance Learning

Report: Online Credit Recovery Programs Benefit from Personalized, Blended Learning Approach

More than 75 percent of school districts are using blended and online learning for credit recovery and to expand course offerings, according to a new report from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), but the type of program and method of implementation has an effect on its success.

The report, "Using Online Learning for Credit Recovery: Getting Back on Track to Graduation," is intended to provide districts with guidance on how to help at-risk or returning students earn the course credits required for high school graduation. Topics covered in the report include the effect of credit recovery programs on students, various approaches to delivery of credit recovery and case studies and lessons learned from those case studies.

The report found that, in an effort to increase graduation rates, some districts have lowered the bar, often by offering low-cost online learning options with little or no direct teacher involvement and requiring very little demonstration of student proficiency in order to pass. According to the report, more successful online credit recovery options are those that are more rigorous, engaging and personalized.

The report also suggests competency-based rather than credit-based options to help students get on track to graduate. Competency-based programs target the specific knowledge and skill deficits of an individual student, so they can focus on improving in those areas rather than repeating an entire course. Although online and blended learning programs aren't necessarily competency-based by nature, the report outlines a number of strategies for implementing those programs in a way that supports competency-based learning, including identifying student proficiency levels upon entry, real-time scaffolding of skills with in-course corrections, multiple pathways of development and content recommendations based on student interest and proficiency.

The report includes case studies of online and blended credit-recovery programs at the Florida Virtual School, Putnam County Schools Virtual Instruction To Accentuate Learning (VITAL Program) in Tennessee, Wichita Public Schools in Kansas, Colorado Youth for a Change and John Marshall High School of Chicago Public Schools in Illinois. Based on those five case studies, the report offers several "lessons learned" to help other districts implement more successful online credit recovery options. Those lessons learned stress the importance of a blended-learning approach using personalized instruction.

The full report is available for free as a downloadable PDF from the iNACOL site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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