Credit where it’s due

Photo by Sue Suchyta

The Credit Recovery Program at Annapolis High School will help senior Marcellia Marshall, who says she is the only one of her friends who will graduate on time.

Online learning and tutoring helps students graduate

Sunday Times Newspapers

HEIGHTS – Second chances aren’t always easy to come by.

But for Annapolis High School students, the Credit Recovery Program gives those who fail a class a chance to successfully pass it and graduate.

The after-school program, with mandatory sessions an enforced set of rules, combines online learning with teacher tutoring and a chance to continue to work at home after hours. Sessions run from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, with optional one- or two-hour sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. Students with an Internet connection at home also can access online learning courses.

Staff members remind students to report on time, follow the rules and focus on coursework, stressing that participation in the program is a privilege, not a right.

“We treat them like they are employees almost when they come in,” Dean of Students Cheryl Howard said. “They turn their computer on, and they get started, which is their job. When it’s time to clock out, they put their stuff away and they go on their way.”

Annapolis uses Education2020, a Scottsdale, Ariz., Web-based instruction provider with teacher-led video delivery available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. E2020 allows students who failed a required classroom course to work at their own pace to earn the credits they need to graduate. Content for each student is customized.

Online time and work is recorded so that teachers and administrators can monitor student progress. Students are quizzed on each section, and each homework assignment is reviewed by a staff member; a lesson then is tailored for them based on skills they have not yet mastered or still need to learn.

“The positive to the video is that they can stop it, take their notes, continue on,” Howard said. “They can rewind it, watch it over and over again … (or) they can watch the 30-second clip that they didn’t understand.”

Many students’ problems stem from a ninth-grade mind-set, officials say, when they don’t understand the need to earn a passing grade to receive credit for a course — or that without the credit, they will not graduate from high school.

“When you get that spark of, ‘I’m going to do this,’ that’s when I snag them,” Howard said. Students start with one class and typically end up taking two or three. Last school year one student took six. There’s now a waiting list to get in.

More than 32 students have graduated in the past two years because of support from the program, and Howard expects more to cross the stage this year to pick up their diplomas.

While some Credit Recovery students may have learning disabilities, Howard said officials aren’t keeping count.

“I know they are kids that have had struggles or obstacles to overcome,” she said. “And that’s the biggest thing: Let’s get them back on track. These kids have potential, they truly do.”

Credit Recovery students also take six regular classes during the school day and must complete homework for those classes as well, she said, so when students work too many hours at an after-school job it is detrimental to their scholastic success. Such conditions make it imperative for students to be able to count on others.

“I think that support is a big factor,” Howard said. “It’s not just support at home, it is support during the day at school (and) support by the teachers in the evening.”

Success stories
Diamond McIntosh, a transfer from Westland’s John Glenn High School, said students in the program like it because they’re learning at a pace that works best for them, and that it’s not as difficult as it may sound.

“If you’re behind and you really want to stay on top and graduate, (the online program is) very easy,” she said. “It’s not hard at all.”

While senior Marcellia Marshall may disagree, she believes the effort will be worthwhile.

“I will be graduating on time, and that’s only because I come here every single day until 5 or 6 o’clock and work my butt off,” she said. “And I sometimes go home and do more.”

She said Credit Recovery has helped her a lot with math, which is difficult for her, and if it weren’t for the program, she said, she probably wouldn’t be graduating for another two years.

Sophomore Aubrey English said the program has helped her after “messing up a lot” in her freshman year.

She does much of her coursework at home for regular and Credit Recovery classes, often spending at least an hour and a half on geometry homework.

“Some of my friends say, ‘Oh, how can you stay here until 6? I can’t wait until sixth hour to go home,” English said. “It’s like, well, when you’re behind you don’t really have a choice. You’ve got to get it done or you’re not going to pass.”

None of her classmates make negative comments about the program, she said, noting that there is a waiting list to get in.

English encourages classmates to talk to their teachers when they are having difficulty with a class.

“Don’t wait until the last week of school to get help,” she said. “Don’t wait.

“Don’t mess up in the beginning, because it is so hard to get caught back up, no matter what high school you go to. It’s very hard.”

Elisha McRoy agrees, saying friends who fail a class should “get on it and not hold back.”

“Do it right away as soon as you can,” she said, “because if you wait (until) the last minute there’s no point. You’re just putting yourself in a failure position.”