A growing network of online classes is giving thousands of high school students a second or third chance to pass courses they need to graduate, from algebra and history to health and physical education.
The classes are part of a widening phenomenon called credit recovery — a term that sounds more about erasing debt than advancing education but actually enables troubled students to get credit for classes they’ve previously failed or didn’t complete.
There are, however, some who urge caution:
“The good stuff is it gives opportunities in a variety of forms for students to gain credit,” says Henry Levin, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. “But I’ve seen enough cases where it’s fraudulent.”
For example, Levin says, “People who may not go to English class in their junior year for the entire semester are given a packet of materials and told, ‘All you have to do is write five essays.’ That’s basically one or two paragraphs each essay. They are given the packet on Friday. Monday, they turn it in. They get credit for the course. We have no idea who did it. And that’s not atypical.”