Advice on California's AB104Answered
Hoping you can help me think through the pros/cons of AB104.
The state of CA is allowing students to change a grade to P/F for the 2020 school year due to COVID.
Participating colleges include UC, CSU, and some private CA schools. Note: Some out of state schools may not accept a P/F grade.
I assume kids likely won't use this for Bs, but maybe for Cs or Ds.
Pro: The poor grade(s) won't be shown on the transcript, so GPA will appear higher.
Con (more of a question): Do you think competitive colleges may assume what the grade might have been anyway? If they assume worst case (D), perhaps a kid getting a C might be worse off?
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For most students and families in CA, this bill gives some relief because more students can graduate because of the temporary lower standards according to the Superintendent of LAUSD. Also, the immediate impact is that their GPA prior to COVID-19 online learning now looks very much the same as if they got a pass-through. So if you had a 3.95 GPA and say a 4.25 weighted GPA prior to covid and you got all Cs instead of As/A-s resulting in a 3.69 UWGPA, 4.04 GPA, this is fantastic because your 2021 will not be stuck in the low 3.7s cumulative, but back to 3.95/4.25.
I feel the biggest benefit is to those who were really hoping to have a shot at super competitive colleges like Ivys, Near Ivys, Elites, and top-ranked LACs. Even though I live just 1 state away, we had a Pass/Incomplete grading scheme in place versus California. This worked in the opposite effect for me and other high achieving students because I took 5 APs and a 6th honors class out of 8 periods and got all As. So the net gain was actually a net loss and both my UWGPA/WGPA would have been higher without this grading scheme. 3.96/4.39 vs 3.97/4.44.
I think 90% of CA students (if they know about this 15-day offer) will take it because they really could use the pass. The top 5-10% of CA students will be on the fence for a couple of reasons.
1.) Some might have actually done really well during this difficult period and were not affected by the lack of WIFI, laptops, or online learning. They would rather keep their high GPAs.
2.) Some might re-consider doing this because all college admissions officers know that the result will be a patchwork of GPAs from the same school or district. So you might have 25 applying to say USC from your school and 5 of them have no grade corrections and 20 of them have grade corrections. So I'm going to assume that there will be some AO Bias toward accepting students from your school that kept their grades up during this miserable time. Is it fair, who knows. But faced with the choice of rewarding someone who thrived in adversity versus someone who struggled and got a pass, they may feel it's a safer bet to pick the students from your school that didn't need to "correct" their transcript. I feel that CA colleges will be more aware of this grade correction than say East Coast Liberal Arts colleges. So some CA students who opt for this, who are the only ones applying to certain smaller elite colleges might get the biggest benefit because their AOs are not paying attention to this 15-day window correction issue.
3.) Then there are those AOs paying attention to this. So if they know someone had all As freshman year and then had PASS/NOT PASS sophomore in CA, they will know that they took a grade correction and have to assume that all the grades are less than a B.
Since I'm not an expert on what the grade correction is let me just say if you are permitted as an HS to cherry-pick which classes on your report card you want Pass/Not Pass, and you took 8 classes and you did that for 4 classes, that doesn't look good. Why because if an AO reads a transcript with partially corrected grades like the following:
AP Calc - Pass
AP English - Pass
AP US History - B
AP Chemistry - Pass
PE - A
Health - B+
Ceramics - A-
Spanish III- Pass
They are certainly going to assume that this person could barely muster the focus to wake up in the morning and do the minimal work. It would be better to see all the classes as either grades or all Passes but not a patchwork of grades and Passes. And that's just my knee-jerk reaction.
Without fully disclosing your own marks and what they would be before and after, it's really hard to make any assumptions and weigh in what you should do. Good luck though.
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