Program lets Rock Hill students boost grades online

If a Rock Hill high school student fails a test or a class, that's no longer the end of the road for his grade.

Last month, the school district launched online credit and content recovery programs that give students a second chance at learning the material and improving their scores. The ball is starting to roll on those programs now as students finish signing up and start signing online.

Credit recovery is designed for students who failed a class but came close to passing. The teacher whose class the student failed identifies the sections the student had trouble with and the student repeats only those sections online to bring his grade above a 70.

"Our thinking is, they've mastered 60 percent of the content, maybe they don't need to sit through the whole course again in summer school," said Sheila Huckabee, director of secondary education.

But there is no need to wait until a student fails a class to do something about his grade, she said. Online content recovery lets students who fail a particular unit go back and repeat only that unit before their regular class is even over. The improved grade from the virtual study then replaces the F in the grade book.

"They're not trying to master the whole course, they're trying to recover a grade," Huckabee said.

Academic coaches -- new positions created this school year -- are serving as the point persons for virtual courses at each high school. They serve as advisers, help line up tutors and open up classrooms with computer space before, during and after school for students who work independently.

The academic coaches said students were thrilled to find out they had an alternative to going to summer school or simply accepting a bad grade.

"I think it's going to be very helpful for the kids," said Melvin Watson, the academic coach at South Pointe High School.

More than 150 students already have signed up.

But because students won't necessarily be supervised 100 percent of the time like they are in traditional classrooms, they have to take more responsibility for getting things done on time.

"They need to be able to be self-motivated, and be able to do some self study because it's all Internet based," said Christie Caveny, academic coach at Rock Hill High.

Students already were able to take complete courses through the district's virtual high school, now in its fourth year. That won't change with the start of credit and content recovery.

There are fees associated with virtual school programs, but students do not need home computers to take the classes.

Rock Hill students also can choose to sign up for the state Virtual School Program, but the district does not track the total number of students enrolled in that program. Statewide, students from 75 districts participate.

Rock Hill district officials already have begun thinking about virtual options for middle school students.