Cal State students keep GPAs up during pandemic transition to online; troubling equity gaps persist

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The California State Los Angeles university campus is pictured during a measles quarantine that was issued for staff and students on April 25, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Dozens of people at two California universities have been quarantined as US health officials battle to stop the spread of a nationwide measles outbreak, authorities said April 25. The Department of Public Health said hundreds of students and staff at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University (Cal State) had been exposed to a measles carrier earlier this month. Those who couldn't prove they had been inoculated had been quarantined, it said. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The California State Los Angeles university campus is pictured during a measles quarantine that was issued for staff and students on April 25, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Dozens of people at two California universities have been quarantined as US health officials battle to stop the spread of a nationwide measles outbreak, authorities said April 25. The Department of Public Health said hundreds of students and staff at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University (Cal State) had been exposed to a measles carrier earlier this month. Those who couldn’t prove they had been inoculated had been quarantined, it said. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

After a tumultuous year online and off-campus, students attending the nation’s largest four-year higher education system, the California State University, have persevered through the pandemic by largely maintaining their grades and course loads — although some troubling numbers point to the struggles of Latino and Black students, a Times survey has found.

Data provided to The Times by 18 of the system’s 23 campuses show that, on average, students’ unit loads and grades did not drop substantially in fall 2020 — the first full semester of online learning — compared with fall 2019.

In fact, average student GPA increased across the board, reflecting flexible grading and expanded withdrawal policies that were put into place during the pandemic, protecting students’ GPAs.

“Despite the enormous challenges, our students are, in large numbers, still pursuing their education. This speaks to their resiliency and determination,” said S. Terri Gomez, associate provost for student success, equity and innovation at Cal Poly Pomona.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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