- More school districts, such as the Minneapolis Public Schools, are offering academies for hundreds of students during winter and summer breaks to allow students to get a jump start on other work or to recover lost credits by completing courses or retaking classes they have failed, District Administration reports.
- Seniors often take these classes, which operate in more effective smaller group settings for up to two hours a day, five days a week, because up to 90% of them still need to recover credits they failed as early as the 9th grade.
- The Minneapolis district is also experimenting with community partnerships with organizations to help students recover credits through attendance at camping trips that explore courses designed by English language arts educators or by attending arts programs designed in collaboration with a local arts center.
Credit recovery programs are designed to help address the high school dropout rate. The issue is considered a societal one because high school dropouts earn an average of $9,200 less per year than high school graduates and are more likely to unemployed. Credit recovery is becoming a popular option for meeting high school requirements. According to the American Enterprise Institute, roughly three out of four high schools in the U.S. now offer credit recovery programs and about 6% of high school students participate in them.
However, many researchers and experts have raised concerns about the quality of education that students receive in these programs. Some educators are also concerned that credit recovery is resulting in artificially inflated graduation rates and is creating a two-track system in high school. As some credit recovery programs are gaining a reputation as an easy option to regular classroom instruction, some students may also opt to take what they see as an easy way out.
There are clear positive takeaways from these efforts, however. One is that winter and summer breaks are a great time to provide additional instruction. In fact, some schools are now even experimenting with holding classes for middle school students during spring break to help them catch up with material they need for state-mandated tests. The other constant is that smaller group instruction seems to benefit struggling students, a fact that was demonstrated once again during a study of Acceleration Academies used during state takeover efforts in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Perhaps if schools could find funding for smaller group instruction for struggling students during the school year, they would not need to spend as much for additional instruction during school breaks.