Online Credit Recovery School-Level Enrollment: Intended and Unintended Consequences
Keywords:K-12, online credit recovery, quasi-experimental designs
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, online credit recovery (OCR) was the most popular use of distance learning in high schools in the United States. With high course failure rates during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, high schools have turned to OCR to help students recover lost credit. This study examined the potential consequences of increasing OCR enrollment at the school level using administrative data from North Carolina and found that increasing OCR enrollment is associated with higher rates of passing previously failed courses but with diminishing returns after about three-quarters of students who failed courses enrolling in OCR. Consistent OCR enrollment increases over four years is associated with higher graduation rates. Contrary to prior research, this study finds no evidence that school-level OCR enrollment increases are associated with lower test score proficiency rates. Using pre-pandemic data to help inform post-pandemic decision making, the results suggest that increasing OCR enrollment might address increased pandemic-induced course failure rates by expanding opportunities to re-earn course credit, but this would not necessarily translate to higher graduation rates.
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