Gary Community School Corp. is the latest district to implement an online credit recovery program to improve its graduation rate.
Gary school spokesperson Sarita Stevens said the district has implemented an e-learning based program called Plato that is based on state standards. Teachers are in training now. She said the district has identified every senior who needs to graduate and will work to help those seniors recover the credits through the program.
Stevens said there are a total of 598 seniors in three high schools — Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Center, West Side Leadership Academy and the Lew Wallace STEM Academy. Of that number, she said 178 need credit recovery to graduate.
"This will also allow us to remediate a few juniors who need credit recovery," she said.
Gary has been wrestling with low graduation rates, one of the measures the Indiana Department of Education uses to determine school accountability grades. They hope to launch the credit recovery program this month.
Although students can work on the program at home, Stevens said most of the time, students will be working on the program at school and can work at their own pace. "There are 119 courses available to them," she said.
"Because they are working from behind, we want to give them the autonomy to learn, give them access to learn," she said. "It's important because a student can still acquire the necessary credits without having to sit in a classroom again. They can go online and learn and work at their own pace. It's also important for transformation to the way students will learn in the future."
East Chicago Central High School Principal Lydia Jagger said of the 303 seniors, about 80 need credit recovery to graduate. She said the district also uses Plato, and she believes the online program is very challenging. She said students must take a pretest, do the lessons, then take a post test.
Jagger said graduation rates have increased over the last three years, with the rate in the 50s in 2010. She said it was 67 percent in 2011 and 79.3 percent in 2012. While the 2013 graduation rates have not been released, Jagger said she believes the high school rate has climbed to 82.1 percent.
"The credit recovery program has helped tremendously," she said. "Students can do the lessons at home, but they must take the tests here and we have to unlock those tests."
While Portage has a graduation rate of 90-plus in 2012 and 2013, it has a strong credit recovery program that has helped several students to earn their high school diplomas.
"We use the A-Plus program and we have kids use that through the year and in the summer," said Portage Superintendent Ric Frataccia. "What we know is that if a kid falls behind in credit in their freshmen or sophomore year, it increases the chance that they may drop out of school. This gives them a chance to pick up the credits and make up some of the ground that they lost."
Crown Point Community School Corp.'s credit recovery program was highlighted a year ago in a video on The Forum on Education at Indiana University at Bloomington. The forum, directed by Leonard Burrello, was created in 1995 to stimulate conversation on ways to transform schools to better serve all students.
Crown Point's credit recovery program offers seven sessions per day and serves a little more than 250 students.
The River Forest Community School Corp. and the Lake Station Community Schools worked together to establish an Alternative School for its at-risk students a few years ago. A credit recovery program is in place allowing students to gain the credits they need to graduate.