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SAT Scores Find Valley School at Top : Exam: Van Nuys High posts highest average in LAUSD. Two other area schools also surpass national and state averages in math and verbal portions.

September 01, 1999|KRISTINA SAUERWEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With Van Nuys High leading the way, San Fernando Valley schools posted some of the top scores in Los Angeles on the 1998-99 Scholastic Assessment Test, according to statistics released late Tuesday.

Van Nuys boasted the highest SAT scores in the Los Angeles Unified School District, averaging 537 on the verbal portion and 568 in math; El Camino Real High in Woodland Hills and the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies also posted results surpassing the national and state averages.

El Camino students averaged 548 math and 509 verbal, and Sherman Oaks students scored 524 math and 521 verbal.

The 1999 national average is 511 math and 505 verbal; the state average is 514 math and 497 verbal. A perfect SAT score is a combined score of 1600.

Traditionally, Valley schools have earned top scores on the SAT, administered to college-bound juniors and seniors. The test is a key variable in university admissions and often considered a good indicator of how a student will perform in college.

With about 70% of its seniors taking the test, one of the highest ratios in the district, Granada Hills High achieved distinction in math with an average score of 524. Its average verbal score was slightly below the state and national averages.

"We are pleased with the good results," Principal Kathleen Rattay said. "We're especially pleased that we've been able to maintain high scores with the majority of our students taking the test."

Along with the Sherman Oaks center, Los Angeles Unified also cited San Fernando High for noticeable improvement. San Fernando students averaged 410 in the verbal portion, an 18-point jump over the previous year.

Statewide, student scores slumped or leveled off after four consecutive years of gains. "The good news is that California had more students than ever taking the SAT," said Doug Stone, a spokesman for the state Department of Education. But the results are "a sign that we have more work to do in the high schools."

With an average composite score of 1,082, students in the William S. Hart Union High School District in Santa Clarita surpassed the national and state marks. In the math and verbal portions, respectively, seniors scored an average of 554 and 528.

"We're very pleased with the results," said Gary Wexler, Hart's director of curriculum and evaluation. "These are the highest scores we've ever had."

Wexler attributed the increase to parents' and teachers' encouraging students to enroll in high-level academic classes, among other factors. Despite being pleased, Wexler said he's concerned about maintaining the scores in the face of overcrowding.

In the Glendale Unified School District, administrators said they were pleased because more students took the SAT than in previous years, indicating that a larger percentage of seniors are college-bound.

As a result, officials said, two district high schools experienced a drop in scores. For instance, 325 students at Hoover High took the test compared with 252 last year. The school's overall average math score of 532 represents a 29-point decrease; its 466 verbal score slipped 12 points.

"I'd rather risk lower scores" in exchange for a higher number of students taking the SAT, said Jim Brown, superintendent of the Glendale district.

Nevertheless, Brown said, the decline emphasizes the importance of taking college preparation courses. "We've encouraged them to take the test," he said. "Now we have to encourage them to take the classes that will help them do well [on the SAT]."

The Glendale district's success story was Crescenta Valley High School, which had more students taking the SAT and higher verbal and math scores than last year.

"We are very proud of the increase," said Steven Ort, an assistant principal. "We assume all of our kids are going to college."

In the Burbank Unified School District, students at its two high schools averaged 491 in the verbal portion and 509 in math, below the national and state averages. Officials said they had not had time to analyze results but were generally pleased.

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Head of the Class

The following is a school-by-school breakdown of 1998-99 SAT scores from LAUSD high schools in the valley.

School: Van Nuys

Average SAT Score: 1,105

School: El Camino Real

Average SAT Score: 1,057

School: SOCES*

Average SAT Score: 1,045

School: Granada Hills

Average SAT Score: 1,017

School: Cleveland

Average SAT Score: 996

School: Taft

Average SAT Score: 989

School: Chatsworth

Average SAT Score: 987

School: North Hollywood

Average SAT Score: 944

School: Grant

Average SAT Score: 939

School: Reseda

Average SAT Score: 924

School: Valley Alternative

Average SAT Score: 912

School: Canoga Park

Average SAT Score: 911

School: BIRMINGHAM

Average SAT Score: 903

School: Monroe

Average SAT Score: 896

School: Kennedy

Average SAT Score: 891

School: Verdugo Hills

Average SAT Score: 881

School: San Fernando

Average SAT Score: 839

School: Polytechnic

Average SAT Score: 830

School: Sylmar

Average SAT Score: 822

*

Nation: 1,016

California: 1,011

LAUSD: 880

* Sherman oaks Center for Enriched Studies

* Source: Los Angeles Unified School Disrtict

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