Governor Signs Gonzalez’s Urgency Bill to Help Students Recover from COVID-19 Setbacks

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (Thursday, July 1, 2021) – California students have experienced unprecedented academic setbacks during the 2020-21 school year – including increased reports of absenteeism, declining grades, social-emotional challenges, and significant learning lags. Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 104, which empowers families with immediate, flexible options to help students make up for lost instruction time. 

“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,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “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.”  

Data from the California Department of Education shows more than 160,000 students did not enroll in school last year –– most of them being between kindergarten and sixth grade. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 16% of school-aged children in California do not have internet access at home, and 27% do not have a high-speed connection. The lack or instability of internet access made it incredibly difficult for these students to effectively learn remotely. 

“I’m thrilled for all the families who can immediately start taking advantage of the options under AB 104 to support their children who have fallen behind,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “Whether it’s a third-grade student who needs more instruction time to retain the material, or the senior in high school who nearly jeopardized their admission to college –– there’s a recovery option available to help every student access the resources and accommodations they need to get back on track for the next school year.”

AB 104 goes into effect immediately and allows parents of students who fell behind during the last year to pursue a number of learning recovery options before the next school year begins.

Grade Retention

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.
 
Credit Recovery

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.

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov