Credit Recovery -

Credit Recovery
Howard Johnston, Ph. D.
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida
[email protected]
Practical Leadership, LLC
Improving the Schools of Today - Inventing the Schools of Tomorrow
What’s the Problem?
Every day in the US, 7000 kids drop out
12 million will drop out in the next decade
Dropouts earn $19,540 a year; grads $27,380
Net economic loss in US: $1.5 trillion
In PA, 80% graduate; range is 41% - 98%
African American grad rate is 57% in US
Hispanic grad rate is 58% in US
> 50% of inmates are dropouts
Why Are They Leaving School?
• Absence of family support
• Becoming a parent
• Missing too many days of
• Failing too many courses
• Uninteresting classes
• Personal problems: mental
illness, drugs, etc.
What to Look For
If a sixth grader in a high poverty school…
• attends school less than 80 percent of the
• fails math or English, or
• receives an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a
core course,
…there is a 75 percent chance he or she will
drop out of high school.
--Robert Balfanz, Johns Hopkins
Credit Recovery: a structured means
for students to earn missed credit in
order to graduate
Fully online
Does it Work?
Definitely Yes!
Definitely No!
Definitely Maybe!
Lots of opinion and anecdotal
evidence; little conclusive
research or evaluation data
Questions and Issues
• Little data on rigor or effectiveness of
• Do students move at own pace, or slide out?
• How long should a class take?
• How are credits recorded? Is it fair?
• Is there equal access – especially online?
• Is it just about the money? (Online courses are
much cheaper than hiring a teacher.)
Who Benefits Most?
• Youth with adult responsibilities such as caring
for family or paid employment
• Youth involved with the criminal justice system
• Older immigrant youth/English language learners
• Youth with learning disabilities or emotional or
behavioral issues (with support)
• Youth aging out of the foster care system
• Youth who move regularly from one school to
• Teen mothers
Less Successful Candidates
• Students who are poorly motivated to earn a
• People with serious, untreated behavioral or
mental health issues
• People who lack enough self-discipline for
self-paced learning (and do not have a
supervisor, mentor, or coach available)
• Seriously skill-deficient students
Features of Successful Programs
Required to offer CR courses by state or LEA
Well-publicized; well-regarded by public
Wide-spread availability across state or district
Stable finances – Start-up funds are crucial
Courses aligned with state standards & tests
Courses self-paced and competency-based
High quality instruction and accountability
Clear program completion expectations
Options for unsuccessful CR students
It’s the Attitude, Stupid!
Respected by school staff
Endorsed by district
Promoted in the community
Not just about drop-out
prevention; it’s preparation
for work or post-sec ed
• First class citizenship for
• Policy environment doesn’t
create snags
• Willingness to take
responsibility for their
• Motivation to graduate
• Clear educational
• Respect for the process
(Don’t game the system.)
• Acceptance of
• Willing to ask for help
Key Decisions
Who is eligible? What criteria will we use?
Who will staff it? OR uses “accredited” people.
Locally produced or purchased from a vendor?
Do we have a “credit by proficiency”
infrastructure in place? Can we build one?
How is it funded? Source of start-up money?
What will we offer? How often? How long?
Can we collaborate to save resources?
What happens to unsuccessful students?
Learn to Earn -- Idaho
Learn to Earn in Hayden is a cooperative apprenticeship
program between Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho
and Post Falls High School. Students earn school credits
for their volunteer construction work. The students gain
hands-on experience on the Habitat job site, and make
useful contacts in the construction community. Learn to
Earn offers students a way to get the credits necessary for
a high school diploma, while teaching them valuable skills
in construction from foundation to finish work.
Learn to Earn -- Philadelphia
Prep Zone is an innovative high school
afterschool program that offers students the
opportunity to earn credit during afterschool
time for substantial projects that apply
classroom learning to real-world situations. The
program includes rigorous coursework,
development of an entrepreneurial project and
business plan, and culminates in levels of
competitions where the students can win grants
and computers.
A Comprehensive Approach
EVOLUTIONS (EVOking Learning & Understanding Through
Investigations of the Natural Sciences), is a free program at
the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven
serving underrepresented, inner city older youth. Students
earn academic credit at their schools for participating in a
program revolving around science career awareness/literacy,
college preparation and transferable skills development.
Students design and construct their own museum exhibition
and produce DVDs that teach science to elementary
students. They also go on a 2-3 day college visitation trip and
visit another museum in the region, all free of charge.
Students become paid, trained interpreters of museum
New York, New York
Young Adult Borough Centers (YABC) are evening academic
programs designed for high school students who are behind
because they have adult responsibilities that make attending
school in the daytime difficult. Students graduate with a
diploma from their home school after they have earned all
of their credits and passed all of the required exams while
attending the YABC. YABCs also offer Learning to Work -additional academic and student support, post-secondary
and career exploration, work preparation and skills
development. Many include the Learning to Work internship
component, where students gain valuable work experience
and earn money at the same time.
A Passion to Learn
Hallways to Learning in Kewanee, Illinois used
the results of a student survey to design their
program. Students indicated what their interests
and goals were, and they now have the
opportunity to participate in a cardio club, a jazz
ensemble, a writing club, culture club, film club
and book club. Woven throughout the
curriculum is a credit retrieval program that
helps students graduate with their peers.
California Dreamin’
BlairLEARNS Program located at Blair High
School (grades 7-12) in Pasadena, California
combines a unique mix of enrichment, interestbased clubs and sports with no-nonsense
academic supports, including credit recovery.
While students may be initially attracted to the
cutting-edge enrichment programming such as
digital media, performing arts and culinary arts,
a large percentage of participants take
advantage of the afterschool credit-recovery
Rollin’ on the River
Al Kennedy HS in Cottage Grove, OR provides a
completely community-based learning program
where students earn HS credits for real-world
projects: a community garden that supplies a
food bank, environmental and water
conservation, a sustainable housing development
(with Habitat for Humanity), and even a boatbuilding contest culminating in a cruise on the
Willamette River.
After School, When’s That?
Practical Leadership
Materials from this session are available at:

similar documents