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Using Online Credit Recovery Programs to Increase Graduation Rates

Resources to help at-risk students succeed

In the Wright City R-II School District in Missouri, the Wright City Academy provides online alternative education and credit recovery programs for at-risk high school students attending Wright City High School. In 2013, the academy began using Fuel Education original credit courses and credit recovery courses, helping the school meet a wide range of intervention and improvement needs while turning frustrated and unsuccessful students into motivated learners who take pride in their work and aspire to earn their high school diploma.

In this web seminar, an administrator from Wright City Academy discussed some of the keys to its success, and how the academy has used online credit recovery courses to increase their course completion rate to 86 percent and to significantly improve the district’s graduation rate. 

Nicole Bono
Director of Marketing
Fuel Education

At Fuel Education, our mission is to partner with schools and districts like Wright City to enhance student outcomes and to improve student academic growth. For Wright City Academy, that means increasing graduation rates. For other schools, they might have different goals. Whatever the goal, our mission is to partner with you to make sure that your online and blended programs are successful.

With over 500 unique courses available, we provide the industry’s largest catalog of online courses for grades pre-K through 12. We have 19 credit recovery courses, which means that we enable you to say yes, no matter what challenges you’re facing—whether it be students who need some help and are struggling, or if it’s web-accelerated learners who are looking for a more challenging curriculum. Our goal is to provide you with as many options as possible for your students.

We’re very excited to be offering six new credit recovery courses in the 2017-18 school year, developed to foster growth mindset and to encourage intrinsic motivation. We will be offering Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, English 9 and 10, and Spanish 1.

We’re also making significant advancements to our health and physical education credit recovery courses. One of the unique features of these courses is that they incorporate the ARCS Model for motivating students, giving specific attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction—again, promoting that growth mindset. This curriculum includes instructional videos featuring real teens who demonstrate real-life concepts and how the concepts they’re learning in the courses can be applied to real-world situations.

Carla Woods
HS Transition Room Instructor
Fuel Education Administrator
Wright City Academy
Wright City R-II School District (Mo.)

Our academy started over 10 years ago with the intention of providing an alternative for students who were struggling at the high school with the regular classes, either academically or socially. The academy was set up also as a service learning program—it helped those students connect with their community and learn some skills that were outside the regular academic-type programs.

The program has slowly morphed into what we have now, from those original three rooms. We have an academy room, the transition room, the credit recovery rooms and summer school. The academy and the transition room are divided by grade levels for the most part, but we do have a little crossover. Students come full-time, all day long, in the academy and transition rooms.

For the FuelEd courses, we have used standard courses, CORE classes and credit recovery—a mix of those depending on what the students need. At the academy, generally we provide two FuelEd classes at a time, which we’ve found over the years is the right balance. They also need a little bit of variety, but with more than two classes, they tend to just kind of jump around and don’t accomplish anything. And we’ve found that a five-week timeline tends to work best to keep them on track. That varies somewhat by student and by the classes they’re taking.

The academy room is housed at our high school. This lends itself to our blended learning concept. They are in the same classroom all day, except for one to three periods. There are about 14 students in that room, mostly seniors, but also some juniors, sophomores and freshmen. The transition room is housed at our middle school. Partially, this is off the high school campus in order to accommodate long-term suspensions if needed. Again, there are approximately 14 students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, with a couple of juniors.

The credit recovery is actually at the high school. It’s offered three periods per day, for about 50 students. Some of the students are there for just one hour per day, and some students are there for two or three hours per day—depending on their needs, what classes they require, what kind of credits they need and so on. There’s a mentor in each room who’s a certified teacher, and we grade most of the classes, which provides a connection with the student. This model allows us to work more closely with the student’s skill level, identify what they need, and what we can do to help them to be more successful.

Summer school is about four weeks, with a morning session and an afternoon session. Each session is three hours, and we usually allow up to two classes. Sometimes they’re continuations of classes that the students were working on during second semester, so they might get three done if they were almost finished with the class previously. And we do count our summer school as regular attendance, so they have to be there every day to get their credit.

For us, completion means that all the work is finished and they have passed the class. We work with them to help them be successful. So it’s not like in the regular classroom where they get an F and have to retake the whole class. We work with them to the point where they actually pass the classes.

Allowing the students some class choice is another important thing that gives them a sense of ownership for their education. There are certain things they have to have, but they don’t necessarily have to take them in a certain order. Sometimes they prefer to take the subjects they struggle with to get those done first, and then they go on to things that are easier for them. Sometimes they like a mix of taking maybe an English and a science to give them a good balance.

That’s what our program looks like today. We feel confident with it, and we see success in our students who were having trouble in the regular setting at the high school.

To learn more, visit www.fueleducation.com 

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit: www.districtadministration.com/ws020817