Traditional high schools are increasingly beginning to use online learning to enable students who have failed a unit assessment to retake the unit before they fail an entire course and need to enroll in a credit-recovery program. During my visits to various high schools across the United States, I’ve seen several different models of unit recovery in practice. In some instances where only a few students have failed a unit assessment, the teacher pulls individual students out of the classroom and places them in a credit-recovery lab to retake the unit. Once a student has successfully completed the unit with a certain grade, the teacher brings him or her back into the classroom with the other students. In other instances where an entire class has failed a unit assessment, all the students retake the unit on laptops in the classroom.

While I agree that early remediation is necessary and needed in schools, I’m not sure that online learning is the best medium for unit recovery as it is currently being used within the K-12 education system—where time is fixed and learning is variable. The problem I see is that when a student is pulled out of the classroom to retake a particular unit on the computer, the class continues to the next unit without that student. This means that when the student renters the classroom, he or she is already behind in the new unit—which consequently increases the student’s likelihood of failing that unit and having to repeat the remediation process.

I’m curious to learn more about how other schools are using online learning in unit-recovery programs. What other models exist for unit recovery besides the two described above? Have you seen gains in student learning as a result of these programs?


  • Katherine Mackey
    Katherine Mackey