In the News: What’s Really in LAUSD’s Online Credit Recovery Courses?

In Los Angeles, when graduation standards were raised and it looked like many students would be denied high school diplomas, the school district turned to online credit recovery courses to get the students back on track.

ednext-june2016-blog-ototn-credit-recoveryAs explained in an L.A. Times editorial

This is how they work: Students who flunk a course can make up the credit by taking classes either in computer-equipped rooms at school, or at home if they have the equipment and Internet access. Teachers lecture on videos, the computer displays the readings or practice problems, and students take tests that are automatically graded. Written work is supposed to be reviewed by a district teacher. The courses have certain benefits: Students can replay a lecture for missed material, something that can’t happen in a regular classroom. When they can’t concentrate any longer, they can put the course on hold and take a break.

But professors and other education experts are concerned that there is too little quality control to ensure that students have completed the equivalent of a regular classroom experience.

When an L.A. Times editorial writer arranged to take one of the online credit recovery courses, he found that “any student who actually takes the full course — sits through each lesson, answers the questions and completes the assignments — gets a meaningful education.” However, the course was set up in such a way that students do not necessarily take the full course:  “some students are able to pre-test out of much of the course, including the writing.”

A feature story by Sarah Carr for Education Next reviewed the credit recovery landscape in 2014 and warned that “accountability lags for online options.”

Earlier, Chester E. Finn, Jr. wrote about the tensions behind credit recovery:

What good does it really do society—or the young person himself—when the education system declares that he has “recovered” enough “credit” to deserve a credential that is described as evidence of college/career readiness when in the real world none of that is true?

– Education Next

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College