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Home Publications Online credit recovery: Enrollment and passing patterns in Montana Digital Academy courses

Online credit recovery: Enrollment and passing patterns in Montana Digital Academy courses

by Sarah Frazelle, David Stevens, Biraj Bisht and Rashea Hamilton

Most U.S. school districts (88 percent) offer credit recovery courses or programs for students. In rural states such as Montana, online credit recovery options are especially popular because they allow schools to serve students in remote areas throughout the year, across a range of subjects, and with few additional resources (Carver & Lewis, 2011; Oliver, Osborne, Patel, & Kleiman, 2009). Such programs offer students greater flexibility and choice, which results in more opportunities to make up classes and a greater likelihood that students will stay in school and stay on track to graduate (Oliver et al., 2009). Despite the growing popularity of online credit recovery courses, there is little research about which students take these courses or how well they perform. This report addresses this information gap by examining 2013/14 data from the Montana Digital Academy (MTDA), the only state-funded program offering online credit recovery courses in Montana. The report provides a descriptive analysis of course enrollment and passing rates. It also draws on interviews with eight district leaders and one MTDA representative to provide context for the analysis and to describe other credit recovery strategies in Montana. 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 the MTDA with other online programs and identify possible areas for investigation or improvement when designing credit recovery options. The report's key findings are: (1) More male students than female students enrolled in MTDA online credit recovery courses, and students in grades 10 and 11 made up a larger proportion of MTDA student enrollments than those in grades 9 and 12; (2) Enrollments in MTDA online credit recovery courses were higher in English language arts than in any other subject; (3) The passing rate in MTDA online credit recovery courses was 57 percent of enrollments; (4) Passing rates in MTDA online credit recovery courses were lowest in math (49 percent) and English language arts (52 percent); and (5) Passing rates were lower for students who took one MTDA online credit recovery course per semester (40 percent) than for students who took multiple courses in a semester (nearly 80 percent). Appended are: (1) Study methodology; (2) Local management; and (3) Interview protocol. [This report was written with Biraj Bisht and Rashea Hamilton.]

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