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3 Schools That Found Success with Credit Recovery Virtual Programs

3 Schools That Found Success with Credit Recovery Virtual Programs

Sometimes, students just need one adult willing to listen to their struggles and concerns—just one knowledgeable teacher willing to offer alternative options that students may not have known were even available. A simple, “What do you need?” or “How can I support you?” can make a powerful difference. Learn how these three schools succeeded in providing credit recovery options to struggling high school students with ingenuity, a listening ear, and a touch of virtual learning.

Making Credit Recovery More Personal in Waldoboro, Maine

“Many times, students just want someone to listen to them. That’s not always possible in the traditional classroom, but I connect with students every day. There are always students who say they are close to giving up, but being able to provide this alternative to them makes a difference. We are keeping students from dropping out.”

—Harolyn York, Student Achievement Center Instructor

The top focus of Medomak Valley High School, a small, rural school in Waldoboro, Maine, was to decrease mounting dropout rates. Since 2007, the school’s Student Achievement Center has implemented an alternative blended learning approach where students get access to rigorous credit recovery courses—gaining credits toward graduation as well as gaining deeper connections with the staff. In a single school year, Medomak Valley High School students earned 181 credits, which included more than 100 full-year courses.  

Designing Alternative Education as a Stairway Rather Than a Stepping Stone in West Burlington, Iowa

"There are two linchpins to [our programs’] success. One has been a willingness by staff to live by the philosophy of no matter what, we are not going to give up on a kid. This will be the one thing we do well every day. The second linchpin has been building relationships with every child. Without that, we can’t make the progress we need to make with our kids."

—Vern Reed, Former Alternative Program Coordinator (Current K-12 At-Risk Director for Ottumwa Community School District) 

Alternative programs tend to carry a negative stigma around them. An innovative way that West Burlington ISD, in West Burlington, Iowa, addressed this stigma was rebranding its Success Center into the Corners Academy (commonly referred to as “the Corners” by staff and students) in partnership with Southeastern Community College (SCC). The Corners became a program that not only offers credit recovery and expanded course options but also specifically offers relevant career and technical education (CTE) courses identified for in-demand local careers. This program encourages students to explore careers and even helps them get hands-on experience through local job pairings and apprenticeships. In the fall of 2018, more than 30 percent of the district’s students were enrolled in at least one online course through the Corners, and students taking college credits through SCC were earning a 100-percent pass rate.  

A Cyber Solution That Reclaims Online Students in Sunbury, Pennsylvania

“I had the district payroll office identify the students attending other online schools but [who] were still being funded under our budget, then reached out via phone, email, or letter. The goal was a face-to-face meeting. I would ask about what they were struggling with when they were in the district, what they were struggling with in their current online schools, and how our program could help solve those challenges.”

—Eric Attinger, Virtual Academy Coordinator

The popularity of online schools has skyrocketed, and public school districts are struggling to retain students. One Pennsylvania district, Shikellamy School District in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, decided to reclaim its online students by establishing a virtual school of its own. This cyber solution involves issuing Chromebooks to every Shikellamy Virtual Academy student so that they can work on credit recovery from anywhere, while still reserving a designated space at the district’s high school to allow for a safe in-person setting for learners who prefer the structure and interaction of a brick-and-mortar classroom. In the 2017–18 school year, Shikellamy Virtual School enrolled 78 students—some of whom were returning to the district after having left for alternative virtual school options. Because of the district’s success in bringing students back, it also brought back over half a million in funding dollars.

Read more of Edmentum’s wealth of success stories to learn how amazing educators are implementing effective programs with student success in mind.