Credit Recovery gives students a path to academic success

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By Steve Van Kooten


It’s the second year of high school, and some students across Wisconsin and the United States have to sit in the same chair, in the same classroom, with the same teacher teaching the same course the students failed the year before. Not only are they faced with an uphill battle against material they haven’t seen in a year, they’ve got the same resources that failed them the last go-around as well. Maybe one student got a zero percent in the class but another got a 55 percent and just barely missed a passing grade. Either way, they are in that classroom again with one less opportunity to earn a credit elsewhere while they retake the course.

“That doesn’t seem to be very effective, does it?” Doug Morris, Principal of the Prairie du Chien High School, said.

Doug is a tall man from Texas; well-dressed and plain-spoken as he flipped through screens on a digital board to review the school district’s credit recovery course results from last year. Earlier in the day, he played brass in the PAC Center to the delight of the district’s faculty. Morris said the district began to utilize Edmentum’s Credit Recovery course in January of 2023 to help students find alternative pathways to success in school.

Edmentum is an online option to assist students to retake courses that offers a wide variety of classes and resources for students to work through material and develop demonstrable competence. Classes include sciences, language arts, history and mathematics. Edmentum’s website details resources for students and instructors through Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to identify at-risk students and provide evidence-based intervention strategies to assist them.

The system also gives a direct line of communication between students and their instructors with an e-mail system supported on program’s internal structure.

Morris has implemented credit recovery programs in other districts, but Edmentum’s program is the best fit for Prairie du Chien in his view because Edmentum’s strategy allows a student to test-out of material they already know through pre-tests. 

“They have to demonstrate mastery of the material,” Morris said. “The stuff they know, they don’t have to do again.”

For instance, a student that failed a mathematics course with a 58 percent, two percent off the required 60 percent to get a passing grade, can take a test to show their knowledge. The student then is moved past that portion of the course and on to material they have struggled with. The work is optimized. It’s efficient, targeted to cater to the student’s needs with the subject. A student might take 25 hours to complete a course, or less than 10 depending on their needs to make a passing grade.

“One student passed a whole semester of biology in eight hours,” Morris noted.

Morris reviewed the data for the district’s credit recovery: on June 19, students logged 58 hours in their programs. Their Biology course had 195 hours logged in the last three months, and between May 31-Aug. 28, the entire district put in 1,200 hours on Edmentum. Since the program was introduced, 39 students have completed credits, some of them finished multiple courses. One student finished seven. That’s seven credits that don’t have to be retaken in a classroom and seven open opportunities for that student to earn credits elsewhere and remain on-track to graduate.

The Prairie du Chien school district offers Credit Recovery to students and pays the fees for each student to access coursework for a year. In that time, the student can take as many courses as needed.

Credit Recovery has other potential uses for students as well. Morris saw a way for students to prepare for difficult classes and the ACT. “If a student wanted to get prepared for that AP test, they could do that.”

Additionally, Edmentum provides as avenue to utilize the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a test given to every student in the district during their junior year. “It shows them one more set of opportunities for them.”

Credit Recovery is one of many tools the school put in place to assist students through barriers and maximize potential. Students have AP classes, education courses with UW-Platteville, courses with Southwest Technical College, and Mighty River to not only provide new challenges but to assist students in their chosen path, whether it’s a four year degree or a trade. Last year, students participated in an advanced Calculus course online through Brigham Young University. There are many resources for gifted students, but Morris wants to be sure every student has what they need.

“We have a portion of our students that are going to struggle, and we have to find ways for them to succeed,” Morris said. “Credit Recovery is one of those.”

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