How cheating can raise high school graduation rates

Want a quick and easy way to raise graduation rates?  Credit recovery courses are the method of choice for many school districts.  Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews writes,

High school science teacher Jeremy Noonan will never forget his training as an online credit recovery teacher in Douglas County, Ga. He was told to always give answer checks. When a student finished an online quiz or test, he was to pull up the results on his own screen, tell the student which questions were answered incorrectly and instruct them to try again.

That was only one of the dubious shortcuts Noonan witnessed while teaching credit recovery, an approach to raising graduation rates that is spreading everywhere. Many educators think corrupt credit recovery courses are a reason graduation rates have been going up. Noonan said the graduation rate in his district went up 13 percentage points in 2015, “despite no meaningful gains in student achievement.”

As I wrote earlier this month,

Today, there are unanswered questions about other shortcuts, namely the utilization and quality of credit recovery courses, which are pass/fail courses that have no effect on a student’s grade point average, athletic eligibility, or student’s postsecondary institution admission eligibility.

Perhaps it is time for the State Board of Education to take a closer look at credit recovery courses and whether they are being used to grant “fast pass”  diplomas.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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