How to Help Secondary Students Succeed: Credit Recovery, Concept/Skill Recovery, and CTE

May 30, 2024
Secondary interventions large scale solutions

This is the second article in our series on secondary intervention. Read our introduction to secondary intervention strategies for additional information.


Secondary students have a lot to accomplish on their educational journey. They need to learn the content and skills for graduation, while also discovering their interests and passions for their future careers. How can teachers and schools help them achieve their goals?

In the previous post of this series, we explored some of the daily interventions in the secondary classroom. But some students may need more intensive interventions that operate on a larger scale.

In this article, we will focus on three larger-scale interventions: credit recovery, concept/skill recovery, and career and technical education (CTE). These interventions support secondary students in meeting their educational goals while managing time constraints.

Credit Recovery

Often, students need to recover credits because of absenteeism, illness, or failing a course from an original credit situation. Credit recovery programs allow students to catch up and earn credits toward graduation. Credit recovery classes can take place online, in person, or in a blended environment, depending on resources and administrator/student preferences.

Not only can credit recovery help students stay on track for graduation, but it can also boost their self-confidence, motivation, and engagement in learning. You can structure your credit recovery program to meet each student’s needs and goals, allowing them to focus on the essential standards and skills.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, 89 percent of high schools nationally offer at least one credit recovery course, and 15 percent of all high school students have taken part in some type of credit recovery. The report also revealed that credit recovery participation differs based on student characteristics, including race, gender, English learner status, disability status, and socioeconomic status. For instance, Black students (22%) were more likely than white students (11%) or Hispanic students (14%) to take part in credit recovery programs.

Implementing Credit Recovery with Technology

Today, students have several alternatives to the boring and repetitive credit recovery labs they’re become accustomed to.  Below are a few ways technology can supercharge your credit recovery program.

  • Exemptive Pretests: Exemptive pretests ensure that students only work on what they need to.
  • Insight into Pacing and Progress: Real-time data dashboards allow educators to monitor outcomes and react to student needs.
  • Scaffolds and Learning Tools: Scaffolded learning and interactive instructional tools support students when they need it.
  • Student Agency: Self-paced learning allows students to gauge their course progression.
  • Engaging Curricula: Dynamic instruction and media-rich content inspire self-directed, active investigation.
  • Flexibility and Customization: Flexible, customizable content suits a variety of student and programmatic needs.
  • Multilingual Learner Support: Multilingual learner (MLL) instruction drives English-language progress and proficiency.
Tools to Help You Succeed

Credit Recovery Needs Analysis
This free guide helps evaluate credit recovery needs, including student, staffing, and instructional resources. Zero in on priorities and nice-to-haves through a series of interactive questions.

Credit Recovery Toolkit

We've taken our best free resources on credit recovery (e.g., workbooks, videos, and best practices) and put them all in one place.

Edmentum Courseware

Get mastery-based, customizable core curricula that helps students recover a few credits or entire grades while building in-depth understanding. According to a recent mixed-methods study, students in credit recovery programs saw a 30% increase in successful course completion over four years, Integrate Courseware into designated credit-recovery classes, longer core learning sessions, or elective alternatives.

Planning Your Credit Recovery Program Webinar

This 15-minute webinar walks through the steps to crafting a strategic and effective credit recovery plan. Discover how to construct a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) program, explore the most common reasons students require credit recovery, and gain invaluable planning tips for districts.

Targeted Interventions: Concept and Skill Recovery

Many secondary students struggle with learning gaps that hinder their academic progress and future goals. Whether they need to catch up on concepts, earn credits, or strengthen foundational skills, they deserve a strategic and integrated approach that meets them where they are.

With intervention, educators often take a surgical approach to pinpoint and address specific learning gaps or concepts hindering progress, ensuring efficient support for the student. Concept recovery refers to the process of helping students who have missed or misunderstood some key concepts in a subject area, while skill recovery refers to the process of helping students who have not mastered some essential skills in a subject area. Technology can help make both processes as efficient as possible.

Implementing Concept and Skill Recovery with Technology

Technology offers a powerful toolbox for transforming approaches to skill and concept recovery in schools. By leveraging technology effectively, educators can personalize learning, create engaging experiences, and improve student outcomes.

  • Adaptive Learning: Assess student skill levels, identify gaps in knowledge, and offer personalized learning activities to address them.
  • Customization: Curate and share educational resources, create personalized learning pathways, and track student progress in real-time.
  • As-Needed Remediation: Provide as-needed, one-on-one tutoring virtually or in-person, offering adaptive support and guidance based on student needs.
  • Interactive Simulations and Games: Help students visualize and understand complex concepts in a fun and interactive way.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Access valuable data on student progress, identifying areas needing improvement and tailoring instruction accordingly.
  • Formative Assessment: Real-time feedback on student understanding, allowing teachers to adjust instruction and address misconceptions immediately.
  • Collaboration: Students can work together on projects and assignments, fostering peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.
Tools to Help You Succeed

Tutoring & Intervention Toolkit
This toolkit collects our best resources for building a tutoring and intervention program that targets learning gaps and helps students keep pace with challenging curriculum.

Apex Tutorials

Minimize gaps and promote success by using course- and EOC-specific Apex Tutorials to help students catch up. Students who use Tutorials score up to 39% higher on math and English EOC retakes.

Exact Path

Help every student access grade-level learning with foundational instruction in Exact Path, designed to reinforce critical math and reading skills. Tier II ESSA evidence confirms Exact Path increases achievement on state assessments, NWEA MAP Growth, and Renaissance Star.

Career & Technical Education (CTE)

Career and technical education is an intervention that provides students with opportunities to learn about and prepare for various careers through hands-on experiences and industry-recognized credentials. You can offer CTE as standalone courses, programs of study, or pathways that integrate academic and technical content.

Career and technical education can help students explore their interests and passions and connect them to their future careers. It can also help them develop the knowledge and skills for the most in-demand careers. We can align CTE with the college and career readiness standards and expectations of each state.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about 77 percent of public high school graduates in 2013 completed one or more CTE courses during high school. Of these graduates, about 20 percent were CTE concentrators, meaning they earned three or more credits in a single CTE program area. The most common CTE program areas were business (23 percent), health sciences (15 percent), and family and consumer sciences (12 percent).

Implementing Career and Technical Education with Technology

With the right partners, you can put the world at the fingertips of your students and allow them to explore endless options and opportunities.

  • Adaptive Learning Platforms: Assess student strengths and weaknesses, recommend relevant learning resources, and adjust the difficulty level to optimize learning outcomes.
  • Online Learning Resources: Online courses, tutorials, and video demonstrations provide students with flexible and accessible learning opportunities. They can access these resources at their own pace and revisit them for reinforcement.
  • Online Collaboration Platforms: Connect students with industry professionals and mentors, allowing them to collaborate on real-world projects and gain valuable insights into specific career fields.
  • Project-Based Learning: Students can apply their knowledge and skills through project-based learning, working on authentic projects that simulate real-world scenarios.
  • Progress Monitoring: Track student progress and provide educators with valuable data about student performance.
  • Performance Analytics: Educational technology can analyze student data to improve curriculum development, resource allocation, and instructional practices.
Tools to Help You Succeed

Career and Technical Education Toolkit
We've gathered our top tools and resources to help you support your students' college and career success.

CTE Career Clusters & Pathways

Career and technical education programs are creating new pathways to success that prioritize real-world learning application and career interests for middle and high school students. At Edmentum, we're committed to helping these learners explore a career theme of interest, learn a set of technical skills, and develop soft skills that speed up employability, all while earning their high school diploma.

Career-Connected Learning Workbook

Prepare your students for success in college, career, and life with Edmentum's comprehensive career-connected learning workbook. Download it now to explore delivery models, funding sources, and evaluation criteria to build an effective career-connected learning program.

Edmentum Courseware

Prepare students for in-demand careers and dial up engagement to combat absenteeism with high-quality CTE and elective options through Courseware. ACTE reports that 94% of CTE students graduate high school, 10% higher than the national average.

Support Secondary Intervention with Technology

In conclusion, the future is bright for secondary intervention. Technology can help students who need extra support to achieve their learning and career goals by providing them with personalized, flexible, and authentic learning opportunities. Students can use technology to connect with online and offline resources, tools, and experiences, helping them explore and prepare for a wide range of careers. By using technology, students can become more independent in their learning and better plan for their future.

In the last installment of this series, we discuss steps you can take to immediately improve intervention for your secondary students, including:

  • Identifying students who need secondary intervention in a remote setting
  • Delivering high-quality instruction and feedback online
  • Monitoring student progress and adjust instruction accordingly
  • Fostering student engagement and motivation

Interested in learning more about how to make your credit recovery program a success? Discover our 17 proven tips to help districts and schools implement and optimize their credit recovery programs.

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