AB104, Retention, and Grade Changes: What You Need to Know

If your child has fallen behind as a result of distance learning, you’re not alone. A new bill has been introduced that aims to help schools address the educational setbacks that occurred during the pandemic. On May 27, the California Senate Committee on Education is set to hear AB104, which was introduced by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and is supported by the California Teachers Association and the California Parents and Teachers Association. 

To help us break down the bill, special education advocate Dr. Sarah Pelangka created this short video:


Here are Dr. Pelangka’s three most important takeaways from the bill:

  • As long as your child was enrolled in kindergarten up to grade 11 for the 2020–2021 school year and received deficient grades for more than half their work, you can request that they retake the grade (known as retention). Once you’ve met with the district to discuss whether this is in your child’s best interest, they must let you know their decision within ten days of the meeting. (The bill notes that the decision must “be consistent with a pupil’s individualized education program.”) If they do not approve retention, the bill requires that other recovery options (“specific interventions and supports”) be provided.
    • The bill was recently amended to make it clear that the local policy on retention is still in place and unchanged. The bill regulates the review process, and requires the district to offer recovery programs.
  • High school students will have the option to change the letter grades on their transcripts  to “pass” or “no pass” so as not to negatively affect their GPA or their ability to access state financial aid for higher education. California State colleges would be required to accept transcripts in this form, and University of California and private postsecondary institutions will be encouraged to notify the CA Department of Education regarding whether they will accept such transcripts in the admissions process. High school students who are enrolled in their third or fourth year and are not on track to graduate in four years must also be offered a way to catch up, including a fifth year option, if this would enable them to graduate with a high school diploma.
    • Note that California Interscholastic Federation rules allow students to compete in athletics for no more than eight semesters, so taking a fifth year of high school will not extend athletics participation to students who have already participated for eight semesters. 
  • The bill doesn’t cover post-secondary education, so parents would need to request compensatory time for whatever the student might have lost (such as onsite job coaching or community-based instruction). If the student has aged out of the school program, you can push to receive supports through an outside agency.

We’ll keep you posted as the news on AB104 develops!

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