AIR.org tweets an infographic about the “credit recovery” I already blogged a bit about. It states that future success in math courses was the same whether online or FTF. The report has the rate at about 50% for passing Geometry the next year. The infographicshows that 66% of online folks passed the course vs. 75% of Face To Face.
One of the authors blogged about it … and his thoughts match mine pretty precisely and thoroughly. There’s a link to comment there that doesn’t go anywhere 😦 He notes that the online course was graded more stringently — less attendance and effort kinds of grades — and that the Face to Face courses had more varied (and less organized) curricula, being more likely to go back and include more basic math than the online, which was all about recovering the second semester of the algebra, thank you (and it’s a K12 product, by the way — the folks who paid well for real experts for the early reading program, though I have no idea if that applies to this course).
He says that
“Even though the online class focused entirely on second semester algebra content, online students still did worse than the face-to-face group on second semester items on the study’s end-of-course test. A possible explanation: Online students, on average, completed only about two-thirds of the course by the end of the summer session.”
Another possible contributor: the lack of more basic understanding got in the way; the face to face teachers who slipped back to more basic stuff might have filled in some gaps.
Then there’s this dismal reality: the students who passed still did poorly. He notes multiple choice questions where fewer than 25% of students got ’em right — as in, had they all guessed, they’d have done that well. That’s consistent with Stigler’s analysis of what developmental students understand about math — where students consistently applied common misconceptions (and for some ideas, only got answers correct when it wasn’t possible to apply the common misconception). So… they might have “passed,” without really learning math.
Only about half the face-to-face students received a C or higher. Most of the others who earned credit barely passed with a D.
But what might happen if schools went beyond a Band-Aid approach? What if summer school offered students more time, with a coherent, more flexible curriculum? What might happen if a summer course attempted to repair not only students’ academic needs but also students’ attitudes about learning math and their ability to be math learners? These are some of the areas to seriously consider as schools design more robust learning experiences for at-risk students who need more than one chance to succeed.