California's New Law Allows High School Students to Change Distance-Learning Grades

The goal is to protect a student’s GPA as they prepare for college.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Across California, the deadline is looming for students to decide whether to trade last school year’s letter grades for a simple pass or fail and that deadline can vary by district.

For example, families at Los Gatos High School must decide by August 10 if they want to consider the “pass or fail” option.

For many high school students, online learning during a pandemic created challenges that they would not have faced in a classroom.

For Los Gatos High School student Lavanya Kalley, distance learning was also a challenge for her.

“Since middle school, I’ve been getting straight A’s. But definitely since this whole COVID learn-at-home situation, that changed for me,” she said.

Kalley, who is about to start her junior year at Los Gatos High School is relieved that she can now turn her less than desirable AP Calculus grade into a simple “pass” on her transcript.

Thanks to a new state law approved in July, high school students across California can replace one or several grades from last school year to a pass no pass.

State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez introduced AB104 to help students struggling with zoom learning, sick family members and other challenges during the pandemic.

“This wasn’t the doing of the kids,” she said. “If a junior got a bad grade because they couldn’t learn Spanish online, let’s relieve the stress of that lower grade and let them compete like everyone else in a normal year.”

The goal is to protect a student’s GPA as they prepare for college.

California State Universities and UC campuses including UC Berkeley said they will accept the pass or no pass option in their admissions.

Some private schools such as Santa Clara University also said they will do the same.

But the law is so new, many universities have not announced their policies.

So, what should families do? College counselor Colleen Bushay Robinson has this answer.

“My rule of thumb is if you have an A or B letter grade, keep it,” she said. “If you have a D choose pass no pass. if it is a C it depends on your situation. So, contact your school counselor and ask for their advice”

Gonzalez said she does not think the law will lead to students changing many courses to pass no pass to get a 4.0 because their transcripts will reflect their grades for all four years of high school.

But she does believe it will help reduce student’s stress. Lavanya says it already has.

"This just boosts my confidence to see a 'pass.' I’m happy about it,” said Kalley.

Contact Us