‘Credit recovery’ — after-school classes for failing students — is raising graduation rates by lowering standards, writes Erich Martel, a social studies teacher in Washington, D.C., on Education Gadfly.
In D.C. schools, a student who flunks a class with 120 to 135 seat-time hours can make it up with an 82- to 92-hour hour credit-recovery “class.” Students who need more teacher attention get less.
Rules ban homework. All assignments are completed during class time.
During the past two school years, students enrolled in different subjects were assigned to one teacher and grouped in a single classroom. In some cases, non-instructional staff members, such as counselors, were assigned to “teach” CR classes. The clear expectation of school officials responsible for these assignments was that students would spend most of their time completing work sheets with little active teacher instruction.
Many students were simultaneously enrolled in two courses, even though one is the pre-requisite for the other, as in math, Spanish, and French. Some students, mainly ELL/ESOL, were enrolled in as many as three English courses at the same time. CR teachers reported a range of direct and indirect pressure by administrators to pass students enrolled in these courses despite failing grades, extensive absences, and late enrollment.
Credit recovery undercuts the work ethic, while giving students an inflated sense of achievement, Martel writes.
The program is expanding rapidly across the nation. Students get diplomas; administrators get higher graduation rates. Community colleges get more remedial students.