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It’s not too late for California high school students to apply for grade changes due to pandemic

A pathway for California high school students to seek relief from the academic toll of distance learning last school year remains available, but the window for school districts to accept applications may soon close.

Assembly Bill 104, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July, enables students in high school during the 2020-2021 school year to petition their school district, county office of education or charter school for any low or failing grade to be changed to a pass/no pass grade. The change is meant to ease the academic fallout of last year on students’ grade point averages.

Changing an F to a “no pass” grade eliminates the drag on a GPA. But changing a D or, in some cases, even a C grade to a “pass” grade can help raise a GPA, depending on the student’s GPA before taking the course.

The deadline for students to apply for grade changes was originally Aug. 15. But the cleanup to the budget bill, which Newsom signed on Sept. 23, required local education agencies to continue accepting applications through Oct. 1. School districts may accept applications after that date if they choose, however.

Schools are supposed to provide families information on the application process both through individual written notices and on their websites. Some, including Santa Rosa City Schools and the West Sonoma County Union High School District, have made instructions accessible on the district home page.

Parents can contact their school to find out more about the application process for grade changes.

Colleges and universities, including all the California State University campuses and many University of California schools, have agreed to accept the pass/no pass grades without prejudice. The California Department of Education has published a list of state and private universities accepting the grades on its website.

The same piece of legislation also enabled students in grades kindergarten through 11th last school year to petition to be held back a year if they failed more than half their classes. It also enables high school juniors and seniors in 2020-2021 to request exemptions from any coursework required by their school district outside of state-mandated coursework.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay.

Kaylee Tornay

Education, The Press Democrat

Learning is a transformative experience. Beyond that, it’s a right, under the law, for every child in this country. But we also look to local schools to do much more than teach children; they are tasked with feeding them, socializing them and offering skills in leadership and civics. My job is to help you make sense of K-12 education in Sonoma County and beyond.  

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