Online Courses, DISD's "Vision for the Future"

Speaking of the Dallas Independent School District ...

This morning, The New York Times -- or, more to the point, The Times via its new-found relationship with the Texas Tribune and, in this instance, a partnership with the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Columbia University -- looks at Texas school districts' love affair with credit recovery courses. Those, of course, are online course credits intended to bring back students who'd otherwise drop out and never graduate. DISD's a big fan; most of its high schools' websites tout the program amongst their after-school programs. But the question is: Are they effective? At least, that's what the Trib's online version asks: "Can Credit Recovery Courses Cut Dropout Rates?" The Times's headline reads thusly: "More High School Students Acquire Online Credits."

As far as T. Jack Blackmon's concerned, online courses are inevitable, necessary -- one more component, a la the recently opened overage high school, good for graduating those who'd otherwise leave school without a diploma. Blackmon's head of the district's credit-recovery program and tells Brian Thevenot and Sarah Butrymowicz:

"It's the vision for the future as far as I'm concerned: kids going at their own pace. ... The traditional school is only good for about a third of the kids, the ones who want football or choir or social activities -- kids who have the school bug. For the rest of them, it's just standing in line, waiting for the factory model to give them an education. A lot of kids don't want to wait in line."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky