Students Can Make Up Lost Learning Time Under Bill By Assemblywoman Gonzalez

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021) – During the COVID-19 crisis, California students are missing out on crucial learning time that could have long-term effects on their educational progress. Assembly Bill 104 by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) will help disadvantaged K-12 students recover from nearly a year of lost instruction time with opportunities for grade recovery, supplemental instruction, and intervention programs designed to tackle students’ socio-emotional needs.

“Students won’t magically catch up academically when they are back in classrooms. We need tailored programs that take into account the educational and emotional toll this crisis has had on our children,” Assembly Gonzalez said. “This bill will ensure schools provide families with options that give their children the chance to get back on track.”

Gonzalez’s AB 104, also known as the COVID-19 Student Learning Recovery Act of 2021, will provide local education agencies in the state a roadmap to hold California students harmless for lost learning time during the COVID-19 crisis. Under this legislation, students would receive academic instruction based on their individual needs, with specific supports for English learners and students with exceptional needs, in small cohorts or in the form of distance learning if public health conditions prevent schools from reopening safely.

Student Grade Reconsideration

Students enrolled in high school during the 2020-21 school year would have the opportunity to change letter grades to a Pass or No Pass grade on the student’s transcript. A student’s GPA and ability to access to state financial aid for higher education would not be negatively affected. 

The bill would require the California State University system to accept the changed transcripts, and encourage private postsecondary institutions and the University of California to notify the CDE whether the institution will accept those changed transcripts in their admissions process.

Retaking Grade Level 

The bill requires school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to implement an interim policy regarding the retention of students who had enrolled in any grade or who were entering kindergarten in the 2020–21 academic year. It requires that on or before July 1, 2021, parents be notified of their authority to request their student(s) retake their 2020–21 grade level for the 2021–22 academic year. 

Following the request, the local education agency (LEA) would consult with the parent, student and student’s teacher and consider academic data and any other information relevant to whether retention is in the student’s best interest, academically and socially. The requesting parent would be notified of the decision no later than Aug. 1, 2021. 

5th Year of High School

Schools would be required to allow high school students who are enrolled in their 3rd or 4th year of high school during the COVID-19 pandemic to enroll in a 5th year of high school if that would enable them to graduate with a high school diploma. This expands existing law that currently allows this option for certain students (students with migrant parents, formerly incarcerated students, children of military families, foster youth and newcomer students).

Funding for Schools

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction would allocate funding to local education agencies (LEAs) based on the number of low-income, English learner, foster and homeless youth it serves, similar to how federal CARES funding was allocated. These funds would support tiered levels of supplemental instructional programs as well as tiered levels of support interventions designed to meet the behavioral, social, emotional, and basic needs of eligible students. Funds would also support the professional development for personnel who will staff the program.

LEAs would be required to develop and present program plans to their respective governing boards by May 15, 2021. Final plans would be submitted to county authorities by June 1, 2021.

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos: samantha.gallegos@asm.ca.gov