Online Credit Recovery School-Level Enrollment: Intended and Unintended Consequences




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.

Author Biography

Samantha Viano, George Mason University

Samantha Viano is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. Dr. Viano’s research focuses on evaluating policies and assessing school contexts that predominantly affect minoritized student populations and their teachers including policies on school safety and security, online credit recovery, teacher retention, and methods for studying racial equity.


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Section II