A while back I had a student, Davy, reach the final week of his final semester in high school, and he had a 40% in my senior Mythology course while maintaining an attendance rate of 60% (and I think a blood-alcohol level of 2.0 most of the semester). I wouldn’t budge on giving “extra credit” to Davy as requested by the parents and the principal.
Instead of asking “what can Davy do to pass the course?” I was asked “what extra credit will you give Davy so he can pass?” I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t feel supported, and I definitely didn’t feel that the integrity of the course was being upheld. The principal placed the responsibility of Davy’s success on my shoulders instead of Davy’s. Still, I did offer one option: Davy passes the final with a C or better–showing that he learned the material–and I would pass him with a D-. Davy and his parents declined.
The solution was credit retrieval, which was at that time an online packet printed, completed, and sent in for the senior English credit. However, the packet contained only 30 multiple choice questions and a paragraph response to Of Mice and Men, a novella we teach in the freshman year. Davy finished this in an afternoon, got his semester credit, and graduated later that week.
I was appalled! I was even asked to assist him!
Apparently, I’m not the only one viewing this as a problem. A New York school is having the same issues. Whether the program for retrieval is online or on paper, I see a frightening trend to award credits much too easily.
My district eliminated courses taught by teachers during the summer to help students gain credits. We now only offer online credit retrieval with courses not aligned to our curriculum. The only courses taught by living people in a classroom are designed to help students pass the state test, but only students who barely missed the cut can take the classes. It’s a numbers game.
Also, my district now has teachers supervise credit retrieval students working online during the school day. They help students navigate sites completing a semester of coursework in as little as four weeks in an 18 week term, and these courses are not aligned and do not force students to meet our standards or pass our course requirements. When these students re-enter the regular sequence of courses, their failure rate is high. Of course, this means more online credit retrieval. Ugh!
What happens in your school?