High School Report: 2011 Edition

How our schools measure up.


Pop quiz: Which school has the highest SAT scores? What do private schools cost these days? How many Advanced Placement (AP) classes does each one offer?

We know there is more to a school than its stats, but our charts give a clear and quick look at how our schools are doing. Happily, the story is pretty good. Many of our schools pull some of the highest SAT and Academic Performance Index (API) scores in the state.

Sadly, there is still a great disparity in public school funding, which determines what schools can offer their students. Wealthier schools often draw on community support—bond and parcel taxes and parent donations—and they reap the benefits by offering more AP classes and having higher test scores.

Whether you are looking at public or private schools, those SAT scores are one of the first things college admissions consider as they screen students for higher education. Then, they look at the rigors of the courses taken and the specific achievements of each student.

Overall, we celebrate the hard work being done by teachers and administrators to deliver an excellent education to exceptional students, as reflected by our high school report. We also celebrate the choices parents have to find the right high school for their child, whether it’s public or private.

So turn the page, and have a look. Diablo has crunched the numbers; all that’s left to do is for you to read the charts.

Chart One: Public Schools

The API score is a key number for these 22 public high schools in our readership area. Scored from 200 to 1,000, the API growth number shows how a school ranks among other California high schools and how its students have improved on standardized tests. Many of our schools have top marks, with an API over 800, which is the state’s goal. Below 600 is considered in trouble.

One of the first things college admissions officers see on an application is the profile of the student’s high school. Those reports contain average SAT scores and the number of AP classes offered, which shows the school’s academic competitiveness.

Higher exit exam pass rates, lower suspension/expulsion rates, and more teachers with master’s degrees can indicate better learning environments.

Just click on the chart below to bring up a larger PDF version.


Chart Two: Private Schools

One of the most riveting numbers for private schools is the price tag. At the high end, it’s on par with college tuition. So, what do you get for your money? Often it’s a small school with lots of AP classes and master teachers, and the goal of really knowing your child. Some schools offer religious and/or specialized education.

All of these 13 private schools are WASC accredited, which means they have passed a rigorous review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. We also looked to see what athletics they offer, and many have a surprising variety for their small size.

As with our public school chart, these statistics reflect strong programs—plus a chance for students to find their niche, whether it be in an academic powerhouse, a boarding school, or a religious institution.

Just click on the chart below to bring up a larger PDF version.



UPDATE 3/21: Some figures have been updated and clarified (see footnotes) since publication.

Reader Comments:
Feb 24, 2011 10:00 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Where did you get your numbers? It's surprising that San Ramon District, which has a parcel tax, is spending less than $6,000 per student. And it's surprising that Acalanes District, which has a large parcel tax, is paying teachers only $62,000. Did you include the teacher benefits in these numbers?

Feb 24, 2011 11:55 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

The Acalanes School Accountability Report Card shows that Acalanes district schools "Average Teacher Salary" is $78,844. Can you correct the numbers given on this table?
See p. 15 at http://www.acalanes.k12.ca.us/219710318194010783/lib/219710318194010783/sarcs/AHSSARC2009-10.pdf

Feb 28, 2011 07:44 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The reporter asked what the average teacher salary was for the AUHSD. She was asked if benefits should be included and her response was no. Therefore, the $62,000 does not incldue, statutory or health benefits.

Mar 3, 2011 06:51 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Where did the reporter get the $3,286 per student number for the two Livermore high schools? Greatschools.org has $8,227 as the per pupil expenditure for Livermore and Granada High! How on earth did the reporter calculate this number?

Also, if it really is that low, that is criminal that students in Livermore are worth 1/3 of students in Piedmont in the eyes of the state and 1/2 of the students in Pleasanton.

Mar 6, 2011 07:31 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Feb 3, 2011: SRVUSD per pupil spending is slightly over $8,400. Your report indicates spending is around $5,800 - this is understated.

Mar 17, 2011 01:47 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The salary of Pleasanton Unified teachers is misleading. We are required to pick up the health coverage by the District if we are not covered by a spouses group plan. Many teachers pay as much as 24,000 a year for medical and dental out of their salaries. That means Pleasanton teachers are some of the worst paid teachers in the area.

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