Act 66 – Student Grade Level Retainment

On June 30, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 66 of 2021 into law. This new law allowed parents, caregivers and students to opt to repeat their 2020-2021 year but they had to submit an application by July 15, 2021.

The application window has closed and the District is no longer accepting applications for students to repeat a grade under Act 66. The following Frequently Asked Questions are for parents, caregivers and students who have received confirmation that, under Act 66, the student will repeat their 2020-2021 school year.

Background on Act 66

This Act permitted the following for the 2021-22 school year:

  •  A student who was enrolled during the 2020-21 school year may repeat their 2020-21 school year grade level in an effort to make up for any lost educational opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even if the student met the requirements to be promoted to the next grade; and
  • A student with a disability who was enrolled during the 2020-21 school year and turned age 21 (either during the 2020-21 school year or between the end of the 2020-21 and the beginning of the 2021-22 school year) may attend a school entity during the 2021-22 school year and receive services as outlined in their most recent Individualized Education Program (IEP) with all the protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

To qualify to repeat a grade level, a student had to be enrolled in one of the following school entities in Pennsylvania during the 2020-21 school year: a school district, intermediate unit, career and technical education center, charter school, cyber charter school, regional charter school, or nonpublic school.

Parents/guardians who were interested in re-enrolling their child under the above options for the 2021-22 school year had to submit the Act 66 of 2021 Student Grade Level Retainment Notification Form to the District by July 15, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

If a parent, guardian, or student submitted the Act 66 of 2021 Student Grade Level Retainment Notification Form by the July 15, 2021 deadline, can they change their mind?

If a parent, guardian, or student changes their mind following their submission of the Grade Level Retainment Notification Form, they would need to consult with the School District regarding the ability to reverse the decision.

How will grade level retention be reflected on a student’s transcript?

The School District will follow local policies regarding how repeated coursework is documented on a student’s transcript and applied toward a student’s grade point average and graduation requirements.

If a student repeats a grade level, are they expected to repeat the courses from the prior year?

The intent of Act 66 is to ensure that school age children do not lose educational opportunities due to COVID-19. As such, it is possible that students will need to repeat courses from the prior year. Parents and guardians are advised to discuss course options with school staff prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year, as the School District is responsible for course placement and sequencing and ensuring students meet the requirements outlined in Chapter 4 of the PA Code.

Does this law permit students to receive additional athletic eligibility by repeating a year?

No. The law does not include an additional year of eligibility for interscholastic athletics. The existing PIAA rules that permit 4 consecutive years of high school eligibility and ineligibility for students that turn age 19 prior to July 1 preceding the school year still stand and are unaffected by the passing of Act 66. Parents and guardians should contact their child’s school administration for additional information on athletic eligibility.

My student was admitted to a criteria-based school for the 2021-2022 school year. If my student repeats a grade at the school they were enrolled in during the 2020-2021 school year, will their place in the criteria-based school be held for the 2022-2023 school year?

No. A student who repeats a year will need to reapply to a criteria-based school.

What will happen if my student’s neighborhood school is at capacity?

There is no guarantee that a student who is opting to repeat a grade will continue to attend the school they were enrolled in during the 2020-2021 school year.

Special Education

Does the School District of Philadelphia need to revise IEPs for students with disabilities who are repeating a grade level or staying for an additional year?

IEPs should be revised in accordance with laws and regulations.

Should the School District of Philadelphia complete re-evaluations for students with disabilities who are repeating a grade level or staying for an additional year?

Re-evaluations should occur in accordance with laws and regulations.

Should the School District of Philadelphia issue Notices of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notices (NOREP/PWN) solely if students with disabilities decide to repeat a grade level or stay an additional year?

No. NOREP/PWNs should be issued in accordance with the prior written notice requirements set forth in laws and regulations.

Do the age range restrictions in Chapter 14 of the Pennsylvania Code apply for the 2021-22 school year?

Yes. In accordance with state regulations, a student with a disability may not be placed in a class in which the chronological age from the youngest to the oldest student exceeds these limits, unless an exception is determined to be appropriate by the IEP team of that student and is justified in the IEP.