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A second chance to graduate on time: High school students' perceptions on participating in an online credit recovery program

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Eric L Jones
Abstract:
High schools in the United States are facing increased scrutiny to increase the number of students graduating with a diploma in four years. This pressure comes from many sources. First, the No Child Left Behind Act instituted graduation as a measure of a high school's success at the federal level. States soon followed by increasing accountability in this area. Differences in how graduation rates were measured and advancements in data tracking technology led to many states measuring cohort groups of students who enter high school in the ninth grade and tracking them to see how many graduate in four years. This measure became known as an on-time graduation rate and, in many states, became a measure used to determine high schools' accreditation. School districts responded to these changes in accountability by instituting new programs designed to increase graduation rates and decrease the number of students dropping out. One type of program that has increased in popularity across the country is the online credit recovery program. Online credit recovery programs utilize an asynchronous online learning platform that is designed for students who are repeating a course they failed in a traditional classroom setting. Features of an online credit recovery program include a one-to-one learning environment where students interact with digital curriculum that includes text, audio, video, and graphic information. Online credit recovery courses are designed so that students can demonstrate mastery of known content quickly and focus on material they did not master the first time they took the course. This instructional approach, along with the asynchronous design that allows students to work through course content at their own pace, enables students to earn a course credit in a reduced period of time. The purpose of the current study was to capture the perceptions of students who are enrolled in an online credit recovery program. The goal of the study to document what factors they believed contributed to their success. The study was driven by research questions which sought to analyze the (1) factors students attributed to their success in the online credit recovery program, (2) perceived chances of graduating from high school on-time after successfully completing the course, (3) relationship between the credit recovery course and the one-to-one laptop computing initiative supported by the school district, and (4) online learning environment of the credit recovery program, as compared to a traditional classroom setting. A qualitative, phenomenological, design was used to explore the research questions. Twenty retained ninth grade students were interviewed. Ten came from each of the two schools that first implemented the online credit recovery program in the school district. The researcher inductively coded these interviews which allowed themes to emerge through the voices of these students. These themes included a sense of control of the learning environment in the online credit recovery program that students did not feel in a regular classroom. This control was manifested by the self-paced, distraction-free, learning environment that was enhanced by the district's one-to-one laptop computing initiative. Also, increased and varied opportunities to demonstrate mastery fostered this sense of control. Another major theme that emerged is that students believed that their chances to graduate on-time were improved because they were able to earn a credit in a course quickly that they had previously failed. The ability to recovery this credit allowed students to avoid traditional credit recovery options in which they felt they would not be successful. Students also perceived that they would continue to experience success if they were allowed to take other courses through the online credit recovery program.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... vi

LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... vii

ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. viii

1. INTR ODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 1

Ramifications of Globalization for Public Education ................................ ....................... 1

Proliferation of Online Learning ................................ ................................ ....................... 3

High School Dropouts ................................ ................................ ............................... 4

Credit Recovery ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 5

Overview of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8

Rationale for the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 9

Overview of the Literature ................................ ................................ ............................. 10

John Dewey’s Philosophy of Education ................................ ................................ . 10

Education Community Response ................................ ................................ ............ 11

Twenty - first Century Skills ................................ ................................ ............... 11

Digital Divide ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 12

One - to - One Computing ................................ ................................ ..................... 12

Online Learning ................................ ................................ ................................ . 13

High School Dropouts ................................ ................................ ............................ 14

Online Credit Recovery Programs ................................ ................................ .......... 14

Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 15

Design and Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 16

Delim itations ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 17

Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 17

2. REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE ................................ ........................ 19

Dewey’s Philosophy of Education ................................ ................................ ................. 22

Education Community Response ................................ ................................ ................... 25

Twenty - first Century Skills ................................ ................................ .................... 26

Assessment of P21 Skills ................................ ................................ ................... 29

Digital Divide ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 30

iv

Page

One - to - One Computing ................................ ................................ .......................... 32

Quasi - experimental Study 1 ................................ ................................ ............... 33

Quasi - experimental Study 2 ................................ ................................ ............... 34

Quasi - experimental Study 3 ................................ ................................ ............... 35

Quasi - experimental Study 4 ................................ ................................ ............... 37

Online Learning ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 39

Researching the Effectiveness of Online Learning ................................ ................ 40

High School Dropouts ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 43

O nline Credit Recovery Programs ................................ ................................ ................. 47

Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 50

3. METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 52

Design Population ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 54

Rationale for a Qualitative Design ................................ ................................ ................. 56

Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 58

Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ............................... 59

Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 60

Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 62

Quality and Credibility ................................ ................................ ........................... 64

4. ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 67

Summary of Interview Process ................................ ................................ ...................... 68

Study Participant Makeup ................................ ................................ ...................... 69

Dynamically Refining the Interview Protocol ................................ ........................ 70

Recording Interviews ................................ ................................ .............................. 71

Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 72

Primary Documents ................................ ................................ ................................ 72

Identifying Quotations ................................ ................................ ............................ 73

Inductive Coding ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 75

Analyzing Codes for Consistency and Accur acy ................................ ................... 76

Emergent Themes From the Voices of Students ................................ ........................... 78

Successful Completion of Online Credit Recovery Course ................................ ... 79

Control of Learning ................................ ................................ ........................... 79

Lack of Distractions ................................ ................................ ........................... 89

Structured Instructional Program ................................ ................................ ....... 91

Multiple Opportunities to Demonstrate Learning Maste ry ................................ 94

Graduating From High School on Time ................................ ................................ ........ 97

Anxiety of Failing Ninth Grade ................................ ................................ .............. 98

Improved Chances of Graduating ................................ ................................ ......... 101

Relationship to One - to - One Computing Initiative ................................ ....................... 103

Factors That Led to Failing in a Traditional Classroom Setting ................................ .. 107

v

Page

Distractions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 108

Loss of Focus ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 109

Role of Teacher ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 110

Online Credit Recovery Teacher in School A and School B ................................ 112

Summary of Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 115

Factors Contributing to Success in Online Credit Recovery Course .................... 116

Distraction - free Environment ................................ ................................ .......... 117

Struc tured Instructional Program ................................ ................................ ..... 118

Multiple Assessment Opportunities ................................ ................................ . 118

Graduating on Time ................................ ................................ .............................. 119

One - to - One Laptop Computing ................................ ................................ ............ 120

Factors That Led to Failing Course ................................ ................................ ...... 120

5. DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 122

Rationale and Methodology ................................ ................................ ......................... 123

Rationale ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 123

Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 124

The O nline Credit Recovery Program Versus a Traditional Classroom ..................... 125

Student Control of Learning Environment ................................ ........................... 126

Pace of I nstruction ................................ ................................ ........................... 127

Progress Monitoring ................................ ................................ ........................ 128

Distraction - free Environment ................................ ................................ ............... 129

Multiple Opportunities to Assess Learning ................................ .......................... 130

Impl ications and Recommendations ................................ ................................ ..... 133

Suggest ed Areas for Future Research ................................ ................................ ... 135

Improved C hances of Graduating on Time ................................ ................................ .. 136

Implication s and Recommendations ................................ ................................ ..... 139

Suggested Studies for Future Research ................................ ................................ 140

One - to - One Laptops and Online Credit Recovery ................................ ...................... 140

Impl ications and Recommendations ................................ ................................ ..... 142

Suggest ed Areas for Future Research ................................ ................................ ... 143

Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 143

LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 145

APPENDIXES

A. Research Subject Information and Permission Form ................................ .............. 156

B. Youth Assent Form ................................ ................................ ................................ . 160

C. Interview Protocol ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 163

D. Example of Quotation Spreadsh eet ................................ ................................ ......... 166

VITA ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 167

vi

LIST OF TABLES

Table

Page

1.

Themes Identified by Researcher and Codes From Which Themes

Emerged ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 80

2.

Analysis of Onling Credi t

Re cov ery Learning Environment and

Traditional Classroom Environment ................................ ................................ 126

vii

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure

Page

1.

Screenshot of Atlas.ti Program, Including Code List and Quotation

Manager ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 74

Abstract

A SECOND CHANCE TO GRADUATE ON TIME: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS’

PERCEPTIONS ON PARTICIPATING IN AN ONLINE CREDIT RECOVERY PROGRAM

By Eric L. Jones, Ph.D.

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2011

Major Director: R. Martin Reardon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership

School of Education

High schools in the United States are facing increased scrutiny to increase the number of students graduating with a dipl oma in 4 years. This pressure com es from many sources. First,

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2001 ) instituted graduation as a measure of a high school’s success at the federal level. States soon followed by increasing accountability in this area. Differences in how graduation rates were measured and advancements in data tracking technology led to many states measuring cohort groups of students who enter high school in the ninth grade and tracking them to see how many graduate in 4 years. This measure became known as an on - time graduation rate and, in many states, became a measure used to determine hig h schools’ accreditation.

School districts responded to these changes in accountability by instituting new programs designed to increase graduation rates and decrease the number of students dropping out. One type of program that has increased in popularit y across the country is the online credit recoveryprogram. Online credit recovery programs utilize an asynchronous online learning platform that is designed for students who are repeating a course they failed in a traditional classroom setting. Features of an online credit recovery program include a one - to - one learning environment where students interact with digital curriculum that includes text, audio, video, and graphic information. Online credit recovery courses are designed so that students can demo nstrate mastery of known content quickly and focus on material they did not master the first time they took the course. This instructional approach, along with the asynchronous design that allows students to work through course content at their own pace, enables students to earn a course credit in a reduced period of time.

The purpose of the current study was to capture the perceptions of students who are enrolled in an online credit recovery program. The goal of th e study to document what factors

they b elieved contributed to their success. The study was driven by research questions which sought to analyze the (a) factors to which students attributed their success in the online credit recovery program, (b) perceived chances of graduating from high school on time after suc cessfully completing the course, (c) relationship between the credit recovery course and the one - to - one laptop computing initiative supported by the school district , and (d) online learning environment of the credit recovery program, as c ompared to a traditional classroom setting.

A qualitative, phenomenological design was used to explore the research questions. Twenty retained ninth grade students were interviewed. Ten came from each of the two schools that first implemented the online credit recovery program in the school district.

The researcher

inductively coded these interviews which allowed themes to emerge through the voices of these students.

These themes included a sense of control of the learning environment in the online cre dit recovery program that students did not feel in a regular classroom. This control was expressed by the self - paced, distraction - free, learning environment that was enhanced by the district’s one - to - one laptop computing initiative. Also, increased and v aried opportunities to demonstrate mastery fostered this sense of control. Anot her major theme that emerged was that students believed that their chances to graduate on time were improved because they were able to quickly

earn a credit in a course that th ey had previously failed. The ability to recovery this credit allowed students to avoid traditional credit recovery options in which they felt they would not be successful. Students also perceived that they would continue to experience success if they we re allowed to take other courses through the online credit recovery program.

1

CHAPTER 1 .

INTRODUCTION

Thomas L. Friedman (2006) used the analogy of a flat world to describe the rapidly increasing global nature of the world. Friedman argue d that economic and political globalization has reached a new level. A convergence of low - cost personal computers, world - wide fiber optic cables, and the

proliferation of work - flow software has allowed individuals to compete and collaborate anywhere in the world (Friedman, 2006). As a result of globalization , the traditional workplace with four walls is disappearing. Instead , individuals are using new skills and tools to create workplaces from wherever they are at any particular moment (Mann & Kirke gaard, 2006).

As a consequence of this new world order, w orkers in the 21 st century must be adaptable, flexible, and willing to learn new skills (Overtoom, 2002).

Ramifications of Globalization for Public Education

The impact of globalization on public education is profound. Bonk (2009) claimed that education has begun to mirror the flatness of society. This flattening of the world is bring ing

about major changes as “educational institutions and training organizations are being forced to modify or significantly change the instructional practices that they have used a nd often found highly effective since they were established” ( Bonk, 2009, p. 10). Bonk summarized these significant changes to education in a flat society with the declaration, “A nyone can now learn anything from an yone at anytime” (p. 7). Bonk went on to say that for this declaration to hold true, students and instructors need access to the Internet .

2

Over the last two decades p ublic education responded to the increasing influence of technology in the world by increasing access to the Internet . According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (U. S. Department of Education ,

2001 ), in 1994 , 35% of schools in the United States had Internet access. By 2002, 99% of schools had Internet access, an increase of 280%. Over the last two decades schools have spent well over $60 billion on equipping classrooms with computers (Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2008). Further, major federal and sta te legislatio n over the last 10 years has emphasized the need for tec hnology literacy. For example, t he No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB ,

2001 ) established technology literacy as a core foundation for learning. The emphasis in NCLB was evidence that educators and policy makers realized that jobs and the economy were changing , and that the ability to use technology in a 21 st century context was vital for preparing students for the future (Muir, Knezek, & Christensen, 2004).

Christensen et al. (2008) claimed that it was not enough to introduce technology into classrooms. The technology that has been introduced into public education over the last two decades has been predominantly

utilized as an add - on that supplements traditional classroom teaching. In order for educational technology to mirror the change seen in other sectors of society, Christensen et al. (2008) argued that, “schools need a new system” (p. 38).

Prensky (200 1 ) also stated that our educational system must change. He pointed to another reason f or the “new system” proposed by Christensen et al. (2008): T he students have fundamentally changed .

Our students are no longer ‘little versions of us,’ as they may have been in the past. In fact, they are so different from us that we can no longer use either our 20th century

3

knowledge or our training as a guide to what is best for them educationally. I've coined the term digital native to refer to today's students .

They are native speakers of technology, flue nt in the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet . I refer to those of us who were not born into the digital world as digital immigrants . We have adopted many aspects of the technology, but just like those who learn another langua ge later in life, we retain an ‘accent’ because we still have one foot in the past. ( Prensky, 2005, p. 8)

Outside of school , students use technology tools to communicate, collaborate, create, coordinate, socialize, and evaluate (Prensky, 2005). Education nee ds to harness the power of the technology it possesses to engage students in learning activities that emulate the world in which they live.

Proliferation of Online Learning

One example of education changing instructional practice to incorporate 21 st century learning is online learning. Online learning is defined as learning that take s place partially or entirely over the Internet . Picciano and Seaman (2007) conducted one of the first studies to collect data on online learning in K - 12 schools. For the purposes of Picciano and Seaman’s study, the researchers categorized online courses as those where students spent at least 80% of their time engaged in Internet - based activities. Blended courses were defined as course s that include d face - to - face a nd online instruction. To be define d as a blended course , 30% to 79% of the content had to be delivered via the Internet . Picciano and Seaman found that “near ly two thirds of all districts [63.1%] currently have students taking either online or blended c ourses with another 20 percent planning to introduce them over the next three years” (p. 7). Further, the

4

researchers estimated that approximately 700,000 students were enrolled in an online or blended course. This represent ed a dramatic increase from an estimated 40 ,000 to 50,000 students just 6

years earlier.

The growth in online learning is representative of many types of students being served by this instructional delivery model. Watson and Gemin (2008) stated that

o nline learning programs are desi gned to expand high - quality educational opportunities and to meet the needs of diverse students.

While the primary reason online courses are offered in school districts is to expand offerings to courses that would otherwise be unavailable, the second most commonly cited reason for offering online learning is to meet individual student needs, according to a survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics. (p. 3)

Zandberg and Lewis (2008) found that students enroll ed in online courses for a varie ty of reasons. One population served included students who took online courses because the subject or course was not offered at their home school. This was particularly true for advanced p lacement or other specialized courses. Another group served w as

s tudents who took online courses to free up their schedule to take other courses at their home school. A third group was those students who were unable or unwilling to attend school on a regular basis.

High School D ropouts

One population of students who is increasingly taking advantage of onlin e courses are those that is at risk of not graduating. The number of students dropping out of high school has come under increased scrutiny over the last 10 years . Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Morison (2006) contended that NCLB raised awareness of the issue of graduation rates in the United States.

5

Increased scrutiny of graduation rates led to the conclusion that rates were higher than previously believed.

Tyler and Lofstrom (2009) stated that this miscalculation was

due to the way the data for dropouts were

collected and how graduation was defined. While t here is ongoing debate about how widespread the issue has become, one study contended that 1.2 million students were dropping out every year in the United States ( Amos, 2008). This translates to

30% of all students in the United States drop ping out before earning a high school diploma.

In 2005, the National Governo rs Association (NGA) led by Gove r nor Mark Warner of Virginia declared 2005 the Year of the High Scho ol. The NGA signed an agreement to implement a common method for measuring the graduation rate. Many states used advances in state and national data tracking to implement cohort graduation rates (Balfanz & West, 200 6 ). Cohort graduation rates are genera ted by tracking cohorts of stu dents from when they enter the ninth grade until they graduate or drop out of school. Using statewide tracking systems, cohort graduation rates can account for mobility between schools anywhere within the state. In essence, students are no longer lost as long as they reside within the state. Cohort tracking has enabled the generation of more accurate

on - time graduation rates. Cohort o n - time graduation rates measure the number of students who g raduate from high school in 4 y ears. Allowances for additional time in high school can be made for exceptional education student s and English language l earners.

Credit R ecovery

H igh schools began implementing online credit recovery programs as a response to the increased emphasis being placed on on - time graduation rate. Credit r ecovery is tra ditionally defined as a way to recover credit for a course in which a student was previously unsuccessful in

6

earning academic c redit towards graduation (Watson & Gemin, 2008) . Credit r ecovery programs, in general, have a primary focus of helping students stay in school and graduate on time. Historically, in a world of face - to - face learning, credit recovery was confined to retaki ng a course during the regular school day or during summer school. Students who had previously failed a course retook it in a similar setting and with similar teaching practices. While many students benefited from these time - tested methods, a significant number did not (Tyler & Lofstrom, 2009) .

School systems investigating credit recove ry programs for their students

began looking for alternatives to the historical models. A new platform for credit recovery that emerged was online learning. Having flex ible, self - paced , online courses that students could complete anytime, anywhere , offered many advantages to schools and students. Students could use the affordances of 21 st

century learning successfully to complete

a course that they were unsuccessful in completing in a traditional classroom.

There are a number of commercial providers of online credit recovery programs.

Designed to help students graduate f rom high school, these online courses are often aligned to state and national standards. Some compani es provide online access to certified teachers , while others expect school districts to provide access to teachers for students completing the course. Students are enrolled in a n online course and move through the course at their own pace. Courses include regular assessments to monitor student s’ mastery of material. The typical online program also utilizes interactive technology such as video, simulations, online discussion with master teachers, and instant feedback on quizzes to engag e students in the co ntent. In most

7

cases , school - ba s ed facilitators are able to manage, track, and assist students using comprehensive data r eports supplied by the program .

As online credit recover y programs have begun to emerge, i mplementation in school districts across th e country has taken many forms. A review of current credit recovery programs by The Principals’ Partnership (2006) found that:

Credit recovery programs were scheduled a variety of ways: during the school day, after school, twilight schools (evenings), or during the summer. Some programs met at schools w i thin the district and others have their own locations, such as in shopping centers. Some only accept students in the 11 th or 12 th grade and others had programs for middle school students, high school stud ents, and over - aged students. Computer learning systems and Web - based online systems for delivering curriculum or augmenting direct teacher instruction were common. Some were used only onsite during regular program hours and others could be accessed anyw here/anytime. Some credit recovery programs only grant credit for regular courses or curriculum modules. Others grant credit for community service, life and work experience, travel study, passing exams, or correspondence. Some programs offer only one ap proach. Others offer multiple approaches. (p. 1)

The multitude of ways that online credit recovery programs are implemented across the country increases the difficulty in defining online credit recovery programs. This study focused on one online credit r ecovery program consistently implemented in one school district. A thorough discussion of this online credit recovery program occurs later in this chapter.

8

Overview of the Study

Technology has the potential to change the manner in which students learn. The researcher investigate d a 21 st century s olution to an age old problem – high

school dropouts.

There are many documented reasons that students drop out from

high school. Bridgela nd et al.

(2006) interviewed over 500 dropouts who claimed reasons rangin g from peer pressure to economic necessity to a lack of interest in the courses they were taking while in school. Another primary reason cited in the literature is students ’ failing courses in school and being unable or unwilling to make up these courses.

This is particularly true for students who are entering high school as ninth graders . Wat son and Gemin (2008) found that “over 60% of the students who eventually dropped out of high school failed at least 25% of their credits in the ninth grade, while on ly 8% of their peers who eventually graduated had similar difficulty” (p. 4).

This study capture d the perceptions of students who were enrolled in an online credit recovery program in a suburban school district in Virginia that supports a one - to - one laptop computing initiative .

All students parti cipating in this study had failed at least one academic subject during their ninth grade year. As stated above, these students were at high risk of eventually dropping out of high school. Instead of partici pating in a traditional credit recovery option , such as retaking the course in a regular teacher - led classroom environment, the students volunteered to take part in an online credit recovery course. The goal of th is study was to document the perceptions o f high school students who successfully participated in an online credit recovery program to document what factors they believed contributed to their success.

The res ea rcher proposed t o interview 20 students who had successfully complete d

the target ed online credit recovery program. Successful completion was defined as demonstrating

9

mastery of at least 70% of the course content , and passing the state standardized assessment for that course , if applicable.

The researcher analyze d t he qualitative data gathered to discern if common themes or patter n s emerge d

among the participants. The researcher correlate d this qualitative data to course grades, program usage reports, and state standardized assessments.

The research er expected that common patterns wou ld emerge that could shed light on factors that contribute to student success while participating in an online credit recovery program.

Rationale for the Study

States and districts have created vast data warehouses which track student performance and disag gregate it to the indi vidual student level. Many states have created individual student identifiers to more accurately track student academic performance and the factors that contribute to it.

These states are able to accurately track student, school, di stric t,

and state data. The development of individual student identifiers has also all owed states to accurately track cohorts of students even if students move to other schools within the state . This led to the development of an on - time graduation rate which details the success of a cohor t of students graduating in 4

years .

In response to pressure at the state level, high schools are searchi ng for effective strategies to e nsure that students graduate in 4 years. Knowing that not all students will be s uccessful the first time they take a course, schools can be greatly assisted in their quest for enhanced graduation rates by the implementation of effective credit recovery pro grams. This researcher investigate d

one online credit recovery program in one s chool district that allows students to move at their own pace to master content and earn credits in a school district that supports a one - to - one laptop computing environment.

10

Overview of the Literature

There are four main bodies of literature that are ex amined in Chapter 2 of this study. The concepts introduced in the overview below will provide a framework for analyzing results of the study.

Dewey’ s Philosophy of Education

The theoretical framework for this study is traced back to the preeminent American philosopher and educator, John Dewey. Under Dewey’s creed of education , schools are responsible for preparing students for an uncertain future. Instead of focusing on specific knowledge or training , the purpose Dewey (1897) stated was that

i t means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities; that his eye and ear and hand may be tools ready to command, that his judgment may be capable of grasping the conditions

under which it ha s to work. (as cited in Hickman &

Alexander, 1998 , p . 230 )

This purpose was particularly important given the technological advances the world was experiencing at the time. Dewey anticipated the rapidly changing future of American society during the Industrial Revolution. He predicted that education would have to change to meet the needs of the society it served . In his seminal work ,

Full document contains 181 pages
Abstract: High schools in the United States are facing increased scrutiny to increase the number of students graduating with a diploma in four years. This pressure comes from many sources. First, the No Child Left Behind Act instituted graduation as a measure of a high school's success at the federal level. States soon followed by increasing accountability in this area. Differences in how graduation rates were measured and advancements in data tracking technology led to many states measuring cohort groups of students who enter high school in the ninth grade and tracking them to see how many graduate in four years. This measure became known as an on-time graduation rate and, in many states, became a measure used to determine high schools' accreditation. School districts responded to these changes in accountability by instituting new programs designed to increase graduation rates and decrease the number of students dropping out. One type of program that has increased in popularity across the country is the online credit recovery program. Online credit recovery programs utilize an asynchronous online learning platform that is designed for students who are repeating a course they failed in a traditional classroom setting. Features of an online credit recovery program include a one-to-one learning environment where students interact with digital curriculum that includes text, audio, video, and graphic information. Online credit recovery courses are designed so that students can demonstrate mastery of known content quickly and focus on material they did not master the first time they took the course. This instructional approach, along with the asynchronous design that allows students to work through course content at their own pace, enables students to earn a course credit in a reduced period of time. The purpose of the current study was to capture the perceptions of students who are enrolled in an online credit recovery program. The goal of the study to document what factors they believed contributed to their success. The study was driven by research questions which sought to analyze the (1) factors students attributed to their success in the online credit recovery program, (2) perceived chances of graduating from high school on-time after successfully completing the course, (3) relationship between the credit recovery course and the one-to-one laptop computing initiative supported by the school district, and (4) online learning environment of the credit recovery program, as compared to a traditional classroom setting. A qualitative, phenomenological, design was used to explore the research questions. Twenty retained ninth grade students were interviewed. Ten came from each of the two schools that first implemented the online credit recovery program in the school district. The researcher inductively coded these interviews which allowed themes to emerge through the voices of these students. These themes included a sense of control of the learning environment in the online credit recovery program that students did not feel in a regular classroom. This control was manifested by the self-paced, distraction-free, learning environment that was enhanced by the district's one-to-one laptop computing initiative. Also, increased and varied opportunities to demonstrate mastery fostered this sense of control. Another major theme that emerged is that students believed that their chances to graduate on-time were improved because they were able to earn a credit in a course quickly that they had previously failed. The ability to recovery this credit allowed students to avoid traditional credit recovery options in which they felt they would not be successful. Students also perceived that they would continue to experience success if they were allowed to take other courses through the online credit recovery program.