The Impact of Online Credit Recovery Programs on the On Time Graduation Rate in Virginia School Divisions

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Virginia Tech

The choice to drop out of high school often follows a progression of disengagement from school (Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Morison, 2006). Students often begin this process as a result of attendance challenges, disciplinary consequences, and persistent failure in traditional learning environments (Bridgeland et al., 2006; Fenning et al., 2012; Foley and Pang, 2006). School divisions face federal and state mandates to improve graduation rates and are under pressure to reform educational practices in an effort to lower the dropout rate (Picciano, Seaman, Shea, and Swan, 2012). School districts around the country have sought to diminish dropout rates through a variety of strategies. The collective goal in all of the initiatives is to redefine the high school experience for students who do not fit the traditional model, connecting them with alternative learning opportunities so as to best meet individual needs (Ferdig, 2010; Carver, Lewis, and Tice, 2010). Online credit recovery programs have the potential to re-connect students at risk of dropping out of high school through technological interactivity, personalization, and immediate feedback (Ferdig, 2010; Watson and Gemin, 2008). This study identified 97 Virginia school divisions offering online credit recovery programs to students identified as at-risk. This dissertation examined the relationship between the use of online credit recovery programs and on-time graduation rates in the Virginia and found an increase in the on-time graduation rates in the school divisions that implemented this strategy. The researcher also examined the various models used throughout the Commonwealth and found a variety of implementation strategies used by school divisions. However data indicated no significant difference in the Virginia on-time graduation rates when comparing the different program implementation measures.

online learning, at-risk students, high school dropouts, dropout prevention programs, credit recovery, school discipline policies, high school graduation