New law allows high schoolers to switch letter grades to pass/no pass

Update: On Monday, Aug. 10, the School District published information about high schoolers’ option to change the grade format for classes taken in the prior school year HERE. The deadline to complete and send in the form to the district is Thursday, Aug. 19.

As the new school year gets underway across the state, there is some reprieve for high school students after a sometimes turbulent and often frustrating three semesters of schooling under pandemic conditions.

A comprehensive education law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 1 includes a provision that allows all high school students in California to change letter grades received in courses taken during the 2020-21 school year to pass/no pass grades.

Read the full text of this portion of AB 104 HERE

According to EdSource, the bill took effect immediately, as “urgency” legislation.

The Exedra reached out to the Piedmont school district but has not received confirmation of where and how information about the new provision will be shared with students and families.

However, other public high schools in the Bay Area have already shared information about the statewide changes. Berkeley High School notes on its website: “One provision allows students enrolled in a Berkeley High School course during the 2020-21 school year to select to replace a letter grade with a Pass or No Pass designation with no negative impact on their GPA.”

On a parent communication hub on its website, Oakland Unified School District wrote:

“AB 104 requires schools and districts to grant a request from a high school student to change a letter grade to a Credit or No Credit* grade for a course during the 2020-2021 school year. (Ed. Code, § 49066.5, added by AB 104.) The number or type of courses eligible for this transcript adjustment cannot be limited by the school or district, and the grade change cannot negatively impact a student’s grade point average. Students will have 15 calendar days following the school or district’s posting and notice to make any grade change requests. Schools and districts will have 15 calendar days after receiving a student’s request to change the transcript and notify the student and the parent/guardian of the change.”

In reporting on the bill today, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Shifting a letter grade to pass/fail means what would have been a D or F, for example, won’t be included in the calculation of a grade point average — a critical part of a college application. There are no restrictions on how many course grades or which courses can be changed.”

However, a letter sent to families of Albany High School students advises, as do communications from other districts, that postsecondary institutions outside California, as well as some institutions in the state, may not accept pass/no pass grades on transcripts for admission. “Some of these mandates may affect student’s return to school, or their next steps beyond AUSD, so you need to know about them right away,” Albany Superintendent of Schools Frank Wells wrote in an email.

A full list of the 46 institutions in California that will accept, for admissions purposes, pass/no pass grades on transcripts instead of a letter grade is available HERE.

As noted by EdSource: “Under the new law, [students] will have only 15 calendar days after a district posts the request form to send it to their district. After that, it will be too late.”

The Department of Education has posted the common application for grade changes on its website.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *