National high school graduation rates linger around only 70 percent. Pressure from the government on school districts to raise this standard has sparked an increase in national use of online credit recovery programs, which allow students to enroll in online courses to retake and receive credit for failed high school classes.
Previously, students who failed classes had to retake them in summer school, or repeat an entire grade the following school year. But, with a high demand created by the push for improved graduation rates, companies that offer online courses, such as Pearson and Kaplan, have taken the opportunity to cash in.
Similar to online higher education courses, high school credit recovery programs allow students to work at their own pace and complete assignments from any computer with Internet access. This type of environment can potentially help those students who struggle in a traditional classroom setting.
Susan Patrick, president of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning estimates that more than 250,000 students are taking online courses to recover lost credits. Online learning in grades K-12 is available to students in 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia, and credit recovery makes up 'one of the fastest growing segments of the $2 billion digital-learning market for elementary and secondary students.'
The U.S. Department of Education backs online credit recovery programs due to support for the use of technology in education and the opportunity it presents to students. Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology considers such programs an important step 'towards improving the opportunity for more students to graduate.'