Success with Online High School Courses: From Probation to Graduation for More Than 600 Students


Amanda Cunningham
Thursday, February 4, 2016 - 9:15am

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 Marshall Metropolitan High School study.

Blended Learning Success

After Chicago Public Schools (CPS) put John Marshall Metropolitan High School on academic probation in 2009, the Marshall staff knew that innovation was necessary to address their problems. The solution was created in 2011, using funds provided by United States Department of Education, when the Marshall staff designed and implemented the Pathway to Accelerated Student Success (PASS) program.

Since implementation in February 2011, more than 600 PASS program students have earned their high school diplomas and more than 2,000 credits have been recovered through online high school courses.

"Now I actually love school. I want to further my education, even after high school. PASS helped me a lot."

PASS Program

Also important to note is that John Marshall Metropolitan High School is no longer on academic probation and Chicago Public Schools cited Marshall as “a turnaround school that has revitalized its curriculum, culture, and climate, and is showing clear gains as a result. Students receive the supports necessary to be academically successful.”

Trials before Success

More than 91 percent of Marshall high school students come from low-income families and, as Table 1 indicates, nearly 95 percent of PASS students suffer from some type of bereavement stress.

Table 1 demonstrates the numerous issues that needed to be addressed in the PASS program. When the Marshall staff designed and implemented the three PASS programs, their goal was to not only address their academic probation status with CPS but also to address the common challenges that their students experienced.  

Marshall’s Methods for Intervention Success

Three PASS programs were designed and implemented in order to enable at-risk students to recover missing credits and increase graduation rates while simultaneously decreasing drop-out rates.

The three PASS programs include:

  1. PASS Daytime for current Marshall students needing to recover credits through online instruction for one to two periods each day.
  2. PASS Extended Day for students needing to recover credits after normal school hours. This program is open to any student in Chicago Public Schools as well as dropouts who work during the day and must attend the evening program.
  3. PASS Institute Drop-out Re-engagement for students all over the city; this program is held about seven hours every weekday. There is a strong emphasis on helping students be successful in all aspects of their lives, including on-the-job training, social and emotional counseling, parental training, resume writing, and postsecondary preparation.

The three PASS programs are further explained in Table 2.

Marshall points to four key practices that work for them:

  1. Relationship building between PASS students and their PASS staff members, who hold them accountable for their own personal growth and development.
  2. Peer-to-Peer mentoring to develop a sense of community and self-worth when they can mentor their peers.
  3. Fuel Education (FuelEd) Online Courses that allow a student to work at their own pace while providing a comprehensive and rigorous option to discover their own learning preferences.
  4. Wraparound services that include a variety of support services and individual attention to help students achieve personal and academic success. 

A successful PASS student stated that, “the school cared if I graduated . . . I have caught up and will graduate on time.” 

PASS Program Credit Recovery Curriculum

The primary goal of each PASS program is to help students earn the 24 credits needed to graduate and receive their diploma on time. Another goal of the PASS programs is to provide a path for training or education after graduation and, as such, students must provide an acceptance letter from a trade school, community college, or other postsecondary institution before they can receive their diplomas.

online credit recovery program at PASS

In all three programs, FuelEd instructors certified in the state of Illinois teach all of the FuelEd online high school courses and are taught in one of the school’s computer labs every weekday. 

The PASS instructional model consists of three major components: FuelEd online high school courses; FuelEd online teachers; and four on-campus Marshall teachers who mentor, tutor, and support PASS students in one-to-one or small group settings. A core value of the PASS programs for the teachers is “building positive relationships with our assigned students.” . 

Read the corresponding online high school course success study.


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