The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

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    Preuss Ranked Best High School in State

    Despite the resignation of its former principal and an
    otherwise tumultuous year in the public eye, the Preuss
    at UCSD remains the top high
    school in California for the
    second year in a row, according to a ranking compiled by Newsweek magazine.

    Housed on the UCSD campus, the charter middle and high
    school was named the sixth-best high school in the U.S.
    by the magazine, climbing three spots from its ninth-place position in last
    year’s survey. Rankings were determined by totaling the number of Advanced
    Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge
    tests taken in 2007 and dividing them by the number of graduating seniors.

    While Newsweek editor Jay Mathews said that some educators
    disputed the ranking system as overly simplistic, he argued that the list is
    valuable for the purposes of encouraging schools to provide a challenging,
    rigorous curriculum for their students.

    The fact that all Preuss
    students take multiple AP
    courses and their corresponding exams contributed to the school’s strong performance
    within the ranking system, Principal Scott Barton said.

    Co-chartered by UCSD and the San
    Unified School
    , the Preuss
    ’s enrollment is primarily
    made up of low-income and minority students. Potential students must submit a
    comprehensive application to attend the school and are selected by lottery.

    Although a 2004 study by UCSD’s Center for Research on
    Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence found that Preuss School
    students did not perform statistically better on standardized tests than
    applicants rejected from the school, data released in February by the same
    office demonstrated that the charter’s students have a higher AP-exam passing
    rate than other high schools in San Diego.

    According to the study, authored by UCSD professors Julian
    Betts and Hugh “Bud” Mehan, Preuss School
    seniors passed an average of two more AP exams than their peers in the 2005-06
    school year.

    Betts and Mehan, who serve on the Preuss School Board of
    Directors, said the facts validate the school’s strategy of prioritizing AP

    “By giving the students ample access to college-level
    coursework, and, crucially, having them take an externally administered exam
    approved by the College Board, the school gives its students an invaluable
    foretaste of the level of rigor that universities will expect,” the study said.

    Of the school’s 97 graduating seniors, 96 percent were
    admitted to a four-year college or university and 89 percent accepted the offer
    of admission, Barton said. About 25 percent of these students will be attending
    a University of California
    campus, with 8 percent electing to attend UCSD.

    Major administrative changes at the school have been ongoing
    since December, after UCSD’s Audit and Management Advisory Services released a
    report criticizing the school’s leaders for lax procedural oversight. Auditors
    found inaccurately recorded grades in 144 of the 190 transcripts they reviewed,
    72 percent of which improved the affected students’ overall grade point

    Ex-Principal Doris Alvarez denied any knowledge of the grade
    changes, but resigned her position shortly after the audit’s release. Barton
    has been serving as acting principal since December, and was appointed
    permanently on May 30 after a five-month search.

    Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said Barton’s 27 years of teaching
    and administrative experience qualified him to lead the school in the
    post-audit transition period.

    “We are entering a new era in the school’s history, and
    Scott will provide exceptional leadership as we further strengthen management
    processes and communication with key stakeholders,” Fox said in a statement.

    Barton said that while the year has been challenging, he
    always had faith that the student body would pull through academically.

    “I was not worried that our student performance would suffer
    because our students have taken rigorous college-prep courses that have
    prepared them for college,” he said. “They have earned their way to college.”

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