As Christian school educators know from experience, when a student fails a class it can initiate a vicious cycle of frustrations that can lead to dropping out. Failing a class can be one of the most overwhelming experiences in the young life of a Christian school student. He or she is faced with the prospect of having to retake it the next semester or school year and falling behind his or her classmates. This is easier said than done. Students often have busy schedules over the summer, with work, family, and church obligations distracting them or preventing them from attending summer school. During the school year, piling more classes on top of a full course schedule can quickly lead to overload and additional failures.Putting aside why they failed, when Christian school students fail they need a way to recover their lost credit that pulls them out of the cycle that leads to dropout, rather than feeds it.
Traditional credit recovery methods used by Christian schools to help their students get back on track include classroom time before, during, and after school, on the weekend, and during the summer. These credit recovery methods have their place; some students do their best learning in the classroom. But, especially for Christian schools, traditional credit recovery has some serious drawbacks.
- Lack of space. By definition, classroom teaching requires classrooms. If credit recovery classes are offered during the normal school day, they need to be scheduled and apportioned space alongside other courses.
- Lack of teachers. For credit recovery courses to be effective, they need to be taught by qualified teachers who understand the subjects and the reasons students struggle. This level of teaching talent is not always available—or affordable—on the weekends, after school, or during vacation.
- Lack of funding. Smaller Christian schools cannot compete with larger public and private schools on factors of scale. When only a few students require credit recovery in a particular course, it can be difficult to justify spending money on summer school instruction.
Online Learning: A New Christian School Credit Recovery Option
Despite the challenges, many Christian Schools see credit recovery as a necessity for preventing dropouts. While many of them have been offering online learning courses for their most gifted students for several years, increasingly, they are also turning to it as a reliable, scalable way to get students back on track when they fail. Online learning can be an optimal tool for Christian school credit recovery because it is:
- Flexible. Guided by teachers, tutors, or parents, students can fit online instruction into their schedules during computer lab time at school or at home during evenings, weekends, and the summer.
- Efficient. When a Christian school student fails a class, it does not necessarily mean he or she did not learn anything. Modern online learning systems avoid needless repetition, and with it, student frustration, by narrowing their focus to just the material the student had not already mastered.
- Mobile. Classroom attendance is not necessary for online credit recovery. Students can complete their work from home or even on the road with tablets and other mobile devices.
- Scalable. Whether a school has one or twenty students needing to recover credits in a particular subject, online learning makes far fewer demands on the school’s space and teaching resources than traditional credit recovery methods.
Other Ways Christian Schools Use Online Learning
Christian schools take their commitment to guiding academic and spiritual growth very seriously. Online learning tools have enabled them to follow through on those commitments in new and cost-effective ways. Our free white paper, “Online Opportunities for Christian Schools,” discusses three ways Christian schools can use online learning to stay academically competitive with public and private alternatives while continuing to meet their financial and spiritual goals.