District introduces new credit recovery process


Rochita Ghosh

Sophomore Payton McCallister takes a test in class, ensuring her mastery of the class’s content. Beginning in 2016, summer school students can regain missed credit simply by taking a test and proving their mastery in the course’s material. 
Summer vacation: a time for relaxation and recovery from the previous school year, long anticipated by students. It provides freedom to choose what a person wants to do with their time, and for some, they choose to enroll in summer school, taking credit advancement or recovery courses.
Students enrolled in the latter have the opportunity to leave partway through the class, starting this summer school year. This is because of changes in the Missouri Department of Education and Secondary Education (DESE) guidelines, which states that students no longer have to spend a minimum of 30 hours in a course, according to a letter sent out to teachers. Instead, the district formulated other methods for students to demonstrate proficiency in a subject, summer school coordinator Bonnie Conley said.
“There will be [a pre-test] to show understanding of content,” Conley said. “Additionally, in English, Social Studies and Science the portfolio requirement will show they completed specific projects/assignments.”
If students successfully complete both of these components, they will earn their desired credit and will not need to continue the summer school course. Biology and physics teacher Kyle Reznicek likes the idea of a pre-test, saying it individualizes the needs of each student.
“What the pre-test does, it lets the instructor to create an individual plan for each student,” Reznicek said. “It lets you just plug in the holes that [a person] missed in certain courses. When you’re trying to recover credit, the pre-test is great because it saves you from wasting time. It saves you from having to take tests and do work that you’ve already demonstrated mastery for.”
infographic by Joy Park
As for the portfolio, it will be an amalgamation of student work from the previous school year and in summer school, Conley said. The district will hire a lead teacher from each core department to help design the specifics.
“District Curriculum Coordinators will be working with lead teachers and department chairs to outline expectations for the portfolio,” Conley said. “This will be based on projects and assignments required during the school year. If a student has some of this work from the school year, they can bring pieces to add to complete the portfolio requirements. Some students may have partial work and summer school will give them a chance to complete the task.”
Reznicek approves of the portfolio, hoping it will show the district administrators how effective the new summer school program will be, but he wonders how the district will handle the increase of students in a single room.
“One of the changes is that you could potentially have two kids in the same classroom recovering two different credits,” Reznicek said. “You could have a biology kid sitting right next to a physics kid.”
Reznicek worries that with the increase of student number and diversity, the single teacher in the room may not be able to handle all the concerns that could follow. A teacher may not know all the material associated with one department, and may not be able to help a student because of this, Reznicek said. It is for this reason and more that sophomore Britton Stamps feels apprehensive toward the new summer school plan.
“I think it can be a good thing, but it depends on how comprehensive the test is,” Stamps said. “Students that failed a course need to be taught the content and if they are given an easy way out, they won’t learn anything.”
Reznicek and Conley assure that this method will allow students to show their understanding of the subject, despite possible opposition from enrolled students.
“Overall, I think it’s much more positive, I think it will be more work for the summer school kids, so I think that the kids will push back,” Reznicek said. “I think for the teachers and administrators, it’s nothing but a good thing. It’s nothing but a good thing to have evidence that yes, learning is taking place.”
Should students be allowed to take a test in order to gain credit?