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Reports: Credit recovery program allows failing students to graduate

Allegations arise in CMS but critics say issue is likely to plague school systems statewide

Students in North Carolina who are failing core classes are still getting high school diplomas.

Over the past week, WBTV in Charlotte twice reported allegations claiming Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are using the credit recovery program to graduate failing students.

The program allows high school students to get the necessary credits to graduate without retaking a course. Rather, students who previously failed take a shortened course focusing on a specific section, and a student’s’ overall grade point average isn’t affected.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are allowing students with GPAs as low as 0.3 to graduate according to a WBTV story, which quoted an anonymous source.

“They complete six classes in three days, and are able to graduate and receive a diploma. It’s unfair that students get inside of a credit recovery and pass within two days and get their diploma,” the source said.

Lindalyn Kakadelis, a senior consultant with NC Education Strategies, points to State Board of Education policies.

“There is nothing in the policy to give any guidance to credit recovery,” Kakadelis told WBTV. “Based on this policy, a diploma could be as little as an attendance award.”

The state board’s policy on credit recovery is only a few sentences and doesn’t limit the number of credit recovery courses a student can take. A student, in theory, could use credit recovery for all classes with little oversight.

“The bigger problem of the whole issue is the State Board of Education does no monitoring,” said Kakadelis.

The SBE doesn’t know how rigorous the curriculum may be or how many students have used the program. Kakadelis has brought the issue to the SBE on several occasions, but the board has yet to address her concerns.

“They were reviewing the policy back in January and I brought it to their attention again,” Kakadelis told Carolina Journal. “It is an explanation of why the state academically performs so low but we have such a high graduation rate, because a student can take a subset online of a course and get the credit. It’s literally as simple as that.”

Kakadelis suggests the board needs to collect data on the program and identify which subsets of classes students are struggling to pass.

“The state board refuses to do any demographic research on who is using them,” Kakadelis said. “I guarantee you, they are just pushing kids through and getting them a diploma using this pathway.”

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board and superintendent are investigating the accusations.

CJ was awaiting a response from the Department of Public Instruction at press time.