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New CA bill gives students who struggled academically during COVID a second chance

AB 104 by Lorena Gonzalez in effect now
Pandemic school
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 19:39:47-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Across the country and here in San Diego, failing student grades have been on the rise since the pandemic. But a new California law, AB 104, offers many students a second chance.

Lawmakers are finding ways for students to recover from COVID learning loss.

"We're providing a few options for people who may be have had a hard time this past school year," Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez said. "The college rush happens right when you get to school, and it's important to get this taken care of."

Gonzalez introduced AB104, the Pupil Instruction Urgency Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month. The bill has three key points.

Change Letter grades to Pass grades:
First, it allows high school students to change their letter grades into a pass, no-pass grade on their transcript. Gonzalez said this could make or break a student's chance of getting into certain universities.
"CSU's and UC's have agreed to take those [pass grades] without harm, so if you had a straight-A average, but unfortunately got a C in one class, you can convert that to pass and not have your grade point average ruined," Gonzalez explained.

Additional year for diploma:
Second, if a senior did not pass their graduation requirement classes during the pandemic, they can go back to school for a fifth year to get their diploma.

Retaking a whole grade level:
Lastly, students who failed at least half their classes may retake a whole grade level, after consultation with school staff.

"We don't anticipate a huge number will redo their grade, but they should have that option to discuss it with the principal and the teacher and find out what's best for their child."

San Diego is one of many California districts with a substantial rise in D's and F's among high school students. Gonzalez said she hopes this bill will help students get back on their feet.

"We just sent the schools $1.4 billion. We sent them even more in the budget that we just passed. There's not specific money set aside, but I will tell you that we set aside so much money for learning loss and for these programs that it would be unrealistic for schools to say that they can't achieve this," Gonzalez said.

ABC 10News contacted the San Diego Unified School District Wednesday. A spokesperson said they are currently working on their implementation plan for AB 104 and will have details in the coming days.