Minneapolis schools offer online credit recovery for high school students over winter break

Minneapolis high school students who failed a course have the opportunity to catch up on their studies during winter break.

The district has offered winter vacation credit recovery options for several years, but it was the second of December that the program went virtual.

The program aims to help students – especially juniors and seniors – earn missed credits in core subjects such as math, science, English, and social studies.

Nearly 800 students signed up for this year’s winter vacation academy, offered December 20-22 and December 27-28. That’s comparable to last year’s enrollment but higher than in pre-pandemic years, said Daren Johnson, district director of extended learning. Attendance is also up, even compared to last year.

“The move to virtual has been a great success,” Johnson said. “Accessibility is proven.”

The online format means students are unaffected by transportation limitations – they can enroll in any course offered.

“It’s a lot more flexible,” Johnson said. “And we’re so much more tech-savvy now, so we can adapt to student needs.”

If students do not complete the course during the winter break, they can continue to work during an after-school recovery program in January.

“We want to keep them engaged in school so they can catch up on their classes and get back on track,” Johnson said.

That’s especially important after periods of distance and blended learning, when many students have fallen behind, Johnson said.

Educators both locally and nationally are concerned about the impact of the gaps the pandemic has created in student learning. Minnesota’s 2021 comprehensive assessment tests showed a seven-point drop in reading scores and an 11-point drop in math from 2019.

The district also offers credit recovery options during spring break, which tends to attract many more students hoping to catch up before graduation, Johnson said. The district has not decided whether this spring’s program will be in-person, virtual or hybrid.

This year, the credit recovery program includes support staff to help special education students and English language learners, Johnson said.

Johnson’s department also partnered with district Indian education staff to ensure Native American families were aware of credit recovery options.

“We really focused on that student and family connection,” Johnson said.

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David A. Albanese