Whitney High School in Cerritos, California

I learned about Whitney High School through the Internet. I had had difficulty finding SAT scores for various high schools in California and, after asking some folks I had met on the net, I found the data. I was trying to come up with a way of organizing the data by sorting it on a variety of keys. No matter how I chose to look at the data, Whitney High school kept popping to the top of the list. I use the word "popping", exploding might be better. By any academic performance measure you care to choose, Whitney High in Cerritos California excels.

Whitney High started out as an alternative magnet school in the mid 70's. It was a dumping ground for counselors who had problem kids. Between the mid 70's and late 80's, the staff at Whitney started to focus on what their students needed to get into the best colleges. The school makes that goal clear to students, parents and community.

It begins in seventh grade. As an outstanding magnet school, it has more applicants than it can accomodate. Whitney has an admissions policy that accepts students from each of the 5 elementary schools in Cerritos. Each school can send up to 30 students. Twenty of the students are admitted on their California Test For Basic Skills (CTBS) scores and an essay. The remaining 10 are admitted to balance out racial distribution. All student's CTBS score must exceed the 75'th percentile.

The seventh graders are introduced to a buddy system to encourage the children to identify with the school and its goals. The school has an array of extra-curricular clubs, sports and music programs to further the student's desire to graduate from Whitney. The school offers SAT preparation courses as well as a peer-tutoring progam. Whitney's program work. The drop out rate for Whitney is 0.0% The daily attendance figures are at 99%.

The school strives to maintain an atmosphere in which learning can occur. In 1993-94, 2% of the student body were suspended for discipline infractions and 3 students were expelled.

Student/Teacher Ratios

The student/teacher ratio at Whitney is 31.5.

Teacher Evaluations

Teachers are evaluated on an on-going basis. The purpose of the evaluations are:


The school boasts that it has the largest percentage of children enrolled in a variety of advanced courses. Whitney backs their advanced course enrollment figures up with results. In 1995, the average Whitney senior passed 3.6 Advanced Placement tests. That's twice Gunn High School's pass rate. Gunn High, in Palo Alto CA, ranks second in the state. On combined 1995 SAT score rankings, Whitney outscores the second place school by a whopping 95 points.

Other High Schools Do Well
One might expect that by drawing the cream from the schools, the other high schools in the area might suffer. Yet, Gahr High scores at average levels and Cerritos High scores well above average on the SAT. Its AP Pass rate in 1995 was 4 times higher than the state average. It appears that by having a school like Whitney High raises the academic performance of all students in a district.

Whitney is a designated feeder school to USC. That means at least one graduating senior is offered a $10,000 annual scholarship by USC.

The school has improved its SAT scores almost every year since 1990. In 1990, their verbal/math SAT scores were 538/613. By 1995, the scores had climbed to 568/665. Their normalized scores are equally impressive. They almost doubled their lead over the second place school from 4% to 7.7%. That means that the second place school, Gunn, scored 92.3% of Whitney's combined SAT score.


1992 salaries were about $600 above state average for mid-range and experienced teachers. The principal and district superintendent collected below state average paychecks. The school maintained the grounds with 3.5 custodial and maintenance workers. A little more than 46% of district expenditures in Cerritos were on teacher salaries. State average was 43%.