Discussion touched on a number of topics at the Oakdale Joint Unified School District board meeting earlier this month. The one which sparked the most conversation was that of Item 12.5 Assembly Bill 104: Graduation Requirements for the Class of 2023.
Assistant Superintendent Gillian Wegener presented the school board with a recommendation to approve the continuation of AB104, which is a modification to graduation requirements as a result of the loss of learning which occurred during the pandemic. AB104 was passed by the California state legislature for the Class of 2022. Wegener presented a request to lower the unit requirement from Oakdale’s standard of 230 units for OHS, 200 units for East Stanislaus, Valley Oak and Oakdale Charter, to 170 units for OHS, 150 units for students at East Stanislaus, Valley Oak and the Oakdale Charter Class of 2023. Under the AB104, the legislature lowered requirements to 130 units for high school students.
“The Class of 2022, those who most recently graduated, the California legislature passed AB104 which allowed all students who were in their third year of high school in 2020/21 to graduate based on the state minimum graduation requirements,” Wegener stated. “This consisted of 130 units for all high school students though Oakdale Joint Unified typically requires that students earn 230 units to graduate from Oakdale High School and Oakdale Charter.”
The assistant superintendent additionally suggested that the sophomore class of 2020/21 were negatively impacted as well and therefore requirements should be adjusted for the Class of 2023.
Board President Mike House inquired as to how the reduced units would be assessed/applied by way of classes and educational requirements.
Board member Diane Gilbert inquired on how explicit it was in terms of the legislation as to the reduced required units to graduate.
“The state requires 130 units to graduate,” Wegener replied.
“So this is part of the legislation, it specifies?” Gilbert questioned.
“As a district we have leeway to increase that in a necessary fashion,” Wegener added.
Audience member Melissa Goodman questioned if there was an assembly bill to extend AB104 beyond the prior years. Wegener responded that it was her understanding that they were given the leeway to extend.
Goodman further voiced her disapproval with how the district has handled giving students the opportunity to make up work and get back on track post-pandemic learning.
“It’s not equitable for kids that have to work to support their families, for athletes,” she said of the make-up opportunities offered after school and in the evening. “There’s no way they can make it back, especially when they are failing half. So we are not providing opportunity for these kids to have succeeded. So instead we’re dumbing it down, we’re cutting credits, we’re taking the value of the diploma from Oakdale High School.”
She said it seems like more could be done.
“This, I don’t feel like this is in the best interest of the student,” she continued. “I feel like it’s just an easy out. Let’s just get it done and move along. Rather than, let’s do everything we can. Let’s add a credit recovery period during their day. Let’s have other options to give them with education.”
Board members Tina Shatswell, Larry Betschart and Terri Taylor voted in favor of the motion. Board members House and Gilbert voted against. The motion passed.