Pali High Students Post Above Average Test Scores


At the August 27 Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees meeting, it was a presentation by Karen Ellis, head college advisor at the school’s College Center, that stood out.

Last year, Pali High received more Posse Scholarships than any other school in Los Angeles, with a total of five full tuition scholarships for students attending Northwestern, Middlebury, Bucknell University, Tulane and the University of Washington, as confirmed to the Palisadian-Post by a representative from the LA Posse Foundation office.

“That’s five students that might not have been able to go out of state,” Ellis shared at the meeting. “It’s a really good accomplishment from one school.”

“The Posse Scholarship is a scholarship that is for leadership in kids that can help with diversity, even though it’s not a minority scholarship … and it’s not based on income,” Ellis continued.

It’s a nonprofit that trains leaders in multicultural teams called “Posses” of 10. 

In 2010, President Barack Obama donated a portion of his $1.4 million Nobel Prize award to the organization, which has a 90% graduation success rate with 57% first-generation college students.

In 2019, “56% of our students, which is a lot higher than a lot of other public schools, especially public charter schools, are attending a four-year college and 37% are attending two-year colleges” in the U.S., according to Ellis. 

Only 1% of graduates went to school out of the country this year, but there are Pali grads studying in Canada, the UK, France, Japan, Italy, Israel, Germany, Sweden, Mexico and Spain. One student was accepted by the Police Academy and another received a scholarship to the United States Air Force.

Pali High students continue to show above-average testing scores. Every October, LA schools administer the PSAT to 11th graders. In the 2018-19 year, students averaged a score of 1121, while the state’s average is 1076 and the district’s average is 885, as posted on the College Board website.

“The pass rate in comparison to other high schools is rather astonishing,” Ellis said.

“Down at the SAT summary, if you look at the total score for evidence-based reading and writing for our school, and our math score it comes out to about an average of 1179, and that fluctuates also and that’s our 2018 since 2019 is not out yet, but that’s still … [almost] 100 points over the national average of all public high schools,” Ellis added.

The national average score is 1082.

In a five-year summary of AP scores, in 2015, Pali High gave 1,721 exams whereas last year, the school gave 2,226 AP exams.

“That’s an incredible increase,” Ellis shared, “and we’re kind of running out of space to give APs, as they are testing in every possible available space around the school.”

Of the students who take AP tests, the overall pass rate is about an 83% average for the entire school, according to Ellis. Last year, 923 students were testing and this year, 1,119 students took AP tests.

“This is a huge accomplishment for a public charter school of this size,” Ellis said. 

The next board meeting is on September 24, scheduled after a board retreat earlier in the month.