Nearly 90 percent of U.S. school districts offer credit recovery programs that allow students to make up courses that they need to meet graduation requirements. Online credit recovery options are popular, especially in rural states, because they allow schools to serve students in remote areas throughout the year, across a range of subjects, and with few additional resources. But, there is little research on which students take advantage of these courses and how well they perform.
This REL Northwest study analyzes course enrollment and completion patterns for students enrolled during the 2013/14 school year in the Montana Digital Academy (MTDA), the only statewide funded online credit recovery program in Montana. The report finds that more boys than girls enroll in MTDA online credit recovery courses, with students in grades 10 and 11 making up the largest proportion. Slightly less than 60 percent of MTDA online credit recovery students receive a passing grade, with passing rates lowest in math (49 percent) and English language arts (52 percent). Also, students who take one MTDA online credit recovery course per semester have lower passing rates (40 percent) than those who take multiple courses in a semester.
The report offers educators an early look at the potential of online credit recovery courses to help struggling students get back on track to graduation. It can also help state leaders compare MTDA to other online programs and to identify possible areas for additional investigation or improvement when designing credit recovery options.
Online Credit Recovery: Enrollment and Passing Patterns in Montana Digital Academy Courses is available as a PDF file on the Institute of Education Sciences' website.