Students and their parents will have until Aug. 31 to decide whether to take advantage of a recent California law that allows for any letter grades from the 2020-2021 school year to switch to pass or no pass.
“I was just pleasantly surprised that the state would go through such great lengths to really try to help our students,” principal Allen Whitten said. “I know a lot of our students who did just fine throughout these school closures, hybrid and distance learning, but there were a group of students that really struggled, so I’m glad they have a little bit of a safety net here where they can get some help on their transcript or their graduation status.”
AB 104, signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 1, introduces three new educational codes: student retention, pass or no pass grade requests and exemption from local graduation requirements.
“The district is not allowed to limit which course or how many courses [for the grade change],” assistant superintendent of Education and Assessment Services Sylvia Kaufman said during the Aug. 10 Fullerton Joint Union High School District board meeting. “It’s open to whichever grades the parents or students feel that they would like to change that grade into a pass grade.”
To go through the grade change, parents have to access a link provided by school officials. As of Thursday, parents of 88 students have requested grade changes, but no one has submitted any retention requests, Whitten said.
The district first emailed students and parents about these options on July 22 and emailed them again on July 30 regarding the grade change request.
Another recent bill signed into law, AB 130, states that students have the right to enroll either in an independent study program, such as the iSierra Online Academy provided by La Sierra High School, or an in-person instruction but adds requirements to this option.
“I’m not against the bill because I do think—and I saw it first hand—that a lot of students were not on the same playing field in terms of technology,” science teacher Kathy Bevill said. “A lot of students had responsibilities at home like taking care of their siblings, so I really don’t see a problem for this specific incident in terms of the credit versus no credit grade.”
In addition, AB 130 states that the Local Education Agency, a public board of education, must have proof that they interacted with the students with assignments, assessments and associated grades.
It must also report the number of students who participate in the online program for 15 or more school days in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, La Sierra intervention specialist said during the FJUHSD board meeting.
The reduction of graduation requirements allowed senior Samuel Valenzuela to have another chance to pass his classes to graduate high school, and he gained the opportunity to stay at Sunny Hills for his senior year.
“I was a little nervous because when I heard it, I thought it was too good to be true,” Valenzuela said. “I was able to stay here and sign a whole contract that I was underneath that bill.”
Although he did receive benefits from the bill, Valenzuela was soon followed by difficulties; he had many classes cut from his schedule because he was required to take selective classes for credit.
“The downside is that I can’t go to a four-year college, and I have to go to a community college because I can only reach that level,” Valenzuela said. “I had to sign a contract saying I will be going to school under the assembly bill, and I agreed to be able to stay at Sunny Hills.”