Seniors Doing Better at Getting Set for College : Education: A study shows that 12th-graders in San Diego and throughout the state have made major gains in test scores and in completing academic requirements.


San Diego County’s 12th-graders and their counterparts in the rest of the state have shown strong gains during the past five years in preparing for college, new data from the state Department of Education shows.

Information released today shows major gains from 1984 to 1989 at both state and county levels in the number of seniors whose Scholastic Aptitude test scores have increased, in the number of students successfully completing high school courses needed to apply for University of California admission, and in the number of students passing advanced placement high school courses for college-level credit.

“California is making steady and significant gains in getting more students groomed for college,” state schools Supt. Bill Honig said in releasing the information on college-bound students.

Among the gains Honig cited:


* Statewide, 18.7% of all 1989 seniors scored above 450 on the verbal portion of the SAT, compared with 15.5% in 1984, a 21% increase. In San Diego County, 17.2% of the 1989 class scored above 450, compared with 14.3% in 1984, a 20% gain.

On the math portion, 20.5% of all state seniors scored above 500, compared with 16.5% in 1984, a 24% increase. Countywide, 18.5% of seniors were above 500, compared with 14.9% in 1984, a 24% increase.

The SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, with 450 verbal and 500 math considered minimum scores in general for application to colleges.

* Statewide, 30.6% of California students completed the so-called “a-through-f” course requirements, the minimum needed to apply to UC campuses, compared with 25.4% in 1985, a 20% increase. In San Diego County, 33.3% completed the a-f sequence, compared with 25.6% in 1985, a 30% increase.

The requirements include four years of English, three years of math, two years of foreign language, a year of U.S. history and a year of a laboratory science, as well as elective courses in art.

* Statewide, 20.3% of the 1989 seniors successfully passed advanced placement courses, more than double the 9.5% in 1984. In San Diego County, 15.7% of the seniors in 1989 passed advanced placement classes, a 91% boost over the 8.2% in 1984.

Advanced placement exams are given in 24 academic areas, including biology, physics, calculus, music, and computer science, as well as in a variety of foreign languages. End-of-course tests are graded on a 1-to-5 scale, with a score of three or better considered passing so that a student can earn college credit for the subject.

Among the 11 high school districts in San Diego County, gains were recorded in all but Vista, according to the state information. In the four largest districts--San Diego Unified, Sweetwater, Grossmont and Escondido--the only decline was a slight drop in the number of students in Sweetwater successfully completing the a-f course sequence.

“What this means is that over the past five years there has been a substantial growth in the pool of young people better prepared to go to college and into the work force,” Honig said. He cited a variety of academic programs throughout the state designed to prepare students for college, including the AVID program begun in San Diego County which targets promising nonwhite students and offers them help with study skills and extra tutoring to qualify them for UC admission.

Honig released statewide ethnic data--no local figures were available--showing that the number of Asian Americans completing the a-f requirements is more than 52%, followed by Filipinos at 39%, whites at 32%, blacks at 25% and Latinos at 19.5%, all substantial gains from 1985.

Similar gains were shown in the numbers completing advanced placement courses successfully, although Honig said that they remain low, especially for blacks, at 4%, and for Latinos, at 10%. Among white seniors in 1989, 18% showed success in advanced placement tests and 42% of Asians received college credit.


Chart shows percent of seniors in class of 1984 and class of 1989 scoring at least 450 on Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal portion and at least 500 on math portion, the minimum scores to be considered college-eligible. The maximum score in each part of the test is 800.

Percentage of students completing A-F courses refers to the minimum number of academic courses high school students must pass to be eligible to apply to a University of California campus. Percentage of students completing Advanced Placement (AP) exams, which are given in 24 academic subject areas such as biology, physics, French, calculus, music theory, and computer science. Students generally earn college credit upon passing the exam.

VERBAL MATH A-F SAT SAT COURSES COU School District 1984 1989 1984 1989 1985 1989 1984 Carlsbad Unified 14.1 21.5 13.4 20.9 23.1 28.6 2.2 Escondido Unified High 12.4 16.0 11.1 16.2 22.5 28.3 5.3 Grossmont Union High 12.9 15.9 13.5 16.8 20.2 23.6 4.6 Oceanside Unified 6.9 10.9 6.9 9.4 21.2 37.3 1.3 Poway Unified 20.6 26.9 21.1 30.3 41.2 42.6 15.8 Ramona Unified 8.6 15.7 7.2 14.0 23.0 32.5 4.5 San Diego Unified 15.3 18.4 17.0 20.1 21.2 39.0 10.5 San Dieguito Union High 26.3 37.9 24.7 43.8 45.4 53.6 12.8 San Marcos Unified 9.6 16.9 11.4 15.3 14.0 27.7 -- Sweetwater Union High 9.4 10.4 9.8 11.8 30.7 28.4 3.3 Vista Unified 13.4 7.9 13.6 7.5 30.1 25.0 13.4 COUNTYWIDE 14.3 17.2 14.9 18.5 25.6 33.3 8.2

AP RSES School District 1989 Carlsbad Unified 6.6 Escondido Unified High 10.7 Grossmont Union High -- Oceanside Unified 18.4 Poway Unified 39.0 Ramona Unified 3.3 San Diego Unified 19.5 San Dieguito Union High 44.0 San Marcos Unified 4.4 Sweetwater Union High 15.0 Vista Unified 5.9 COUNTYWIDE 15.7

Source: California Department of Education