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California students get options to repair low grades caused by COVID-19 distance learning

AB 104 allows the families of students who fell behind in the 2020-2021 school year to choose from learning recovery options before the upcoming school year.

CALIFORNIA, USA — California students will have the opportunity to make up for lower grades in the classroom brought on by distance learning and the coronavirus pandemic.

Assembly Bill 104, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 1, allows the families of students who fell behind in the 2020-2021 school year to choose a learning recovery option before the upcoming school year. Those options include repeating their grade level; choosing a pass or no pass grading system; or, for juniors and seniors, adding an additional fifth year for “credit recovery.”

The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D – San Diego.

“As a mom of three boys who were in ‘Zoom school’ during the pandemic, I saw how much our kids struggled to adapt to distance learning,” Gonzalez said in a press release.

More than 160,000 students did not even enroll in school during the pandemic, according to data from the California Department of Education. And data from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that 16% of school-aged children in the state did not have internet access at home. Another 27% don’t have a high-speed connection, according to the PPI data.

“Knowing that hundreds of thousands of students across California weren’t able to log on at all during the past school year, it was clear we needed special interventions to help students overcome these unexpected setbacks,” Gonzalez said. 

Specifics for the learning recovery options are as follows:

Repeating a grade level:

AB 104 will require school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to implement a temporary process for students to be able to retake their grade level, if they are not passing at least half of their courses.

Under the new law, a parent can request for their child to retake a grade level, after which a consultation must take place within 30 days to allow the parent, student, and student’s teacher to determine if it’s in the student’s best interest. A final decision must be issued within 10 days of the consultation.

AB 104 also requires schools to provide supplemental learning and socio-emotional supports to students who are ultimately approved to retake a grade level.

Pass/No Pass Grading:

AB 104 will allow high school students enrolled during the 2020-21 school year to change their letter grades to a “Pass" or “No Pass” designation on their transcript, keeping their GPA from being negatively affected so they are not unfairly disadvantaged for college admissions and still have access to state financial aid for higher education. The bill requires CSU and requests that the UC and private colleges accept transcripts with a “Pass” or “No Pass” designation.

Adding a fifth year:

For students who were enrolled in their 3rd or 4th year of high school during the pandemic, AB 104 would require schools to allow them to complete their high school graduation requirements, including an option to enroll in a 5th year of instruction to ensure students graduate with a high school diploma.

Read more from ABC10

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