Credit-for-learning programs allow students to earn credit for various activities and experiences outside of the classroom, such as community service projects, internships or apprenticeships, independent studies, and student-led projects. Youth work closely with mentors and industry professionals, often with oversight from school teachers, where they gain hands on experience in areas of interest.

These programs are often opportunities designed and led by students, allowing them to explore their interests and dive deeply into subject matter that interests them. Youth have the option to participate in a wide range of opportunities, from boat building classes that earn math and science credits to video design projects that earn art credit.

Various models of credit-for-learning programs exist, and each state has different standards or requirements. Some models to consider include:

Is credit-for-learning credit recovery?

Credit for learning is NOT credit recovery. Credit recovery programs allow students to redo classwork in courses that they have failed or retake the class in an alternative manner, such as in summer school, during after school or weekend classes, or online.

Credit for learning programs offer credit attainment for all students and refers to alternative methods of gaining credits outside of the classroom “seat time.” Credit for learning does not replace or compete with learning done in school during school hours, but can complement and supplement classroom learning.

What are the benefits of credit-for-learning programs?

Credit-for-learning programs utilize a student-centered learning approach that can help improve students’ engagement in their education. In some program models, youth design their project from start to finish. They select their project’s subject matter and determine the final product. Afterschool program staff work closely with the youth on their projects, identifying community or industry partners to serve as mentors and facilitating the relationship between the teacher of record and the afterschool program.

How are afterschool programs ideal partners for credit-for-learning programs?

Afterschool programs’ inherent flexibility and responsiveness to student interests and needs make them perfect partners in supporting credit-for-learning programs. Afterschool and summer learning programs encourage youth voice and choice in program offerings, allowing youth to explore their interests in engaging, hands-on activities. Afterschool programs are also expert at facilitating school and community partnerships, a key component of successful credit-for-learning programs.