Online Credit Recovery: Achieving a 100% Graduation Rate in California


Amanda Cunningham
Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 11:45am

In its new series, “Research: Outcomes of Blended/Online Learning Programs,” the Evergreen Education Group takes an in-depth look at successful blended and online programs across the nation to examine the best practices that have created tangible results. We are pleased to share with you some highlights from the Williams Junior Senior High School study.

Blended Learning Success

With a focus on keeping students in school, on track, and on target to graduate, Williams Junior Senior High School was able to achieve outstanding results with their online credit recovery program: a one hundred percent graduation rate. 

Of the 360 students who entered as freshmen in the fall of 2011, all of them graduated in May 2015. Further, as of June 2015, there were no students in Williams Junior Senior High School that were credit deficient, and all but one junior high student were promoted to high school.


Trials before Success

Williams Junior Senior High School is in Williams, California, an area with a high number of agricultural and seasonal jobs. With this rural setting, the school has more than 90 percent of its 540 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and more than 60 percent of the high school students are English Language Learners (ELL).

In August 2012, one third of the high school students were credit deficient and Williams’ existing credit recovery program was ineffective at keeping students in school, on track, and on target to graduate. In the past, when they were behind or failed any of the four core courses (math, English, science, and U.S. History), students might have been socially promoted, held back to repeat a grade, or given large paper packets of instructional materials and then required to pass tests covering the material. All of these previous methods failed the students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

To help overcome these academic challenges, in May 2013, the staff implemented two new online credit recovery learning programs—an academic recovery program for junior high students and an online credit recovery program for high school students.

Williams’ Methods for Intervention Success

Dr. Nicholas Richter, the principal, and his staff understand that it is essential to intervene as soon as they are able to identify a struggling student. Accordingly, intervention begins with an academic recovery program for seventh and eighth grade students who are failing or falling behind in their studies. These junior high students enroll in the Williams academic recovery program and are required to take full online courses comparable to the courses they failed.

Of the 360 students who entered as freshmen in the fall of 2011, all of them graduated in May 2015.

Similarly, high school students enroll in the Williams online credit recovery program starting the semester after they failed a traditional semester-equivalent course. However, for high school students, in addition to taking a course to recover credit, they must also enroll in an online elective course to help ensure they stay on track for graduation.

Dr. Richter shares what he believes are the three key contributors to their online credit recovery success:

  1. Struggling students need to experience a little success and, once that happens, they typically embrace their responsibility to improve.
  2. To have that initial success, students need to work individually with a dedicated teacher who can personalize the instruction to address a student’s prior experience, current situation, and future goals.
  3. Instruction must be engaging and exciting. The high-quality Fuel Education (FuelEd) online courses and dedicated teachers and mentors create the right combination for success.

Williams Credit Recovery Curriculum

FuelEd provides all online courses for both of these programs. Williams’ two dedicated recovery program teachers provide one-to-one tutoring for students who take their online courses in one of two computer labs in the school. 

Students in the two programs attend their traditional classes during the week and study their online credit recovery courses in the school computer labs every Saturday morning, and they can access their courses from home as well.

Dr. Richter states that this method of assisting at-risk students, “shifts responsibility to the student and most students respond well. Students who know they are close to completion sometimes study after school in the computer lab. They are excited about their success and being caught up.”

Click here to listen to a short online credit recovery webinar featuring Dr. Richter explaining his methods for success.

Read the corresponding online credit recovery success study.


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