The D.C. State Board of Education [SBOE] voted to reject proposed emergency credit recovery regulations put forth by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education [OSSE] and called for expanded public input on the matter at a meeting Wednesday, July 18.
SBOE hopes that expanded input from community stakeholders will develop recovery credit procedures to be put in place for the 2019-2020 school year.
“Credit recovery program can be very helpful for students that have struggled in regular coursework,” SBOE Vice President and Ward 2 representative Jack Jacobson said. “But, the regulations presented to the State Board would have created confusion for schools without providing any benefit for students.”
He said emergency rule-making limited public input and created uncertainty for schools and agencies that must implement and comply with the rule.
“It is important for our schools to have a solid foundation for the credit recovery program that puts the future of our students in the forefront,” Jacobson said.
Credit recovery courses are remedial courses that allow students to make up portions of failed courses to earn academic credit, which is an alternative to repeating an entire course.
The practice is often used to support students in graduating on time, but, a January investigation into graduation and attendance at D.C. Public Schools [DCPS] revealed that credit recovery was widely misused by schools in the District.
In April, OSSE presented draft changes necessitating emergency rule-making for the rules to take effect for the 2018-2019 school year.
The proposed changes waive a 120-hour seat time requirement for recovery courses, reserves credit recovery for students who have completed and failed a course to prevent the practice of enrolling students in recovery courses when they have not taken the underlying course and requires schools to publicly post credit recovery policies.
In addition to requiring credit recovery courses curriculum to be in line with statewide content standards, the proposed regulation will also collect and share information about the use of credit recovery in D.C. schools.
DCPS schools will be required to submit annual compliance reports indicating the number of students who failed courses, the number of students who are subsequently referred to credit recovery and a count of those who successfully passed the recovery courses.
Members of the SBOE expressed concern that the policy change lacked substantial assurance of improvement of school performance.
SBOE At-Large representative Ashley Carter called the changes “a step in the right direction,” but believes that the regulations were “rushed and doesn’t go far enough.”
SBOE is an independent D.C. agency that advises OSSE, which is the District’s state education agency. SBOE approves statewide education policies and sets academic standards, while OSSE oversees education in the District and manages federal education funding.
SBOE’s authority on regulatory approval is limited and is only permitted to vote in favor of or against regulations, not amend but does so through resolutions.
SBOE Ward 6 representative Joe Weedon co-introduced an amendment resolution to the changes alongside Jacobson that would re-instate the 120-hour requirement. He said recovery courses should not be replacing learning in the classroom, any change that would enable such a practice shortchanged the efforts of schools to educate students.
“We are failing far too many students,” Weedon said, pointing to low rates of achievement across the District on its statewide assessment test.
“I am not comfortable with these regulations because I don’t feel assured that they’re establishing a solid floor for our school system and our [local education agencies],” he said. “We need to find a path forward that best supports all students, proves mastery and allows them to succeed in college or career.”
State Superintendent Hanseul Kang said the draft regulations are strong and address the key findings of the graduation and attendance investigation.
“They represent a significant step forward on establishing statewide guardrails and transparency on the use of credit recovery,” Kang said.
She agreed with SBOE members that the school system has often failed to prepare students for success in college or career when graduating from high school, particularly students of color, those from economically disadvantage backgrounds, and those with disabilities.
However she agreed that matters of curriculum and instruction are best left up to the schools.
“I have also heard [SBOE] members rightfully express concerns about the rigor of credit recovery courses and all other courses,” she spoke ahead of the vote. “I understand your desire to do more but, in a quest to do more, it is important to recognize which policy tools are ours and which are not.”

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Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer

Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her...

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