Credit Recovery

“Credit recovery” is another appalling consequence of No Child Left Behind. Although I know that it’s not politically correct to characterize it this way, that’s how I see it. Let’s see what it is and how its cheerleaders write about it:

Let’s say that you’re a high school student who missed 50% of your math classes last year and earned a 38% average. And let’s say that your class had met for 150 hours during that school year, so you’ve missed 75 hours of instruction and learning time, not to mention all the classroom experiences, many of which formed an essential but untested components of what students who attended every day learned. Needless to say, you didn’t get credit for the course. Since you had similar results in a couple of other courses, you aren’t going to be able to graduate. So, what do you do? You sign up for a “credit recovery” course in spring break or over the summer, put in nine hours of classtime, take no tests, learn almost no math, and yet “recover” the credit for the course. As James Eterno from Jamaica High School in New York City wrote:

This winter, Jamaica High School has followed other schools by starting something called “Credit Recovery.” A pupil who has failed a class can make up an entire course by showing up for three mornings for three hours during winter or spring break. The academic standards have fallen so much that teachers now joke that vehicles better roll up their windows when they pass by our school or they will have a “drive by diploma” thrown in their car. We understand why the SAT scores are down. Standards are virtually nonexistent. Kids are smart. They know this. We know we are not alone and that what is happening at Jamaica is occurring in many other buildings.

Yes, many other buildings — and many other cities. It even takes place in Massachusetts, where we pride ourselves on having the best education in the country. An article from the Boston Public Schools exemplifies what the cheerleaders say. Here is a paragraph from Boston School Committee chairperson Gregory Groover:

We know from our comprehensive study on the district’s graduation rate that many students who drop out are often very close to graduating. By taking advantage of this accelerated opportunity to make up the final one or two courses they need, students can graduate in the same year as their classmates, whereas in the past they would have been forced to repeat an entire year of high school just to earn those few credits, something which many students opted not to do.

Yes, letting kids graduate instead of dropping out is a good thing. But “recovering” credits when you haven’t learned anything…what good is that? The final word comes from another New York City teacher who writes about a student who wants to become a pediatrician:

 The biggest obstacle in her path will be credit recovery.  Instead of giving Janice the courses she needs, she will be allowed to do a series of questions on the computer and then will be awarded credit for everything she failed in the past.  Notice, I said credit and nothing about knowledge. With this sort of education how can she be prepared for college?  And, if she can’t do college, she certainly can’t go to medical school.


Categories: Teaching & Learning