Highlands High School: Full Guide

Location: North Highlands, CA

Are you a student or parent at Highlands High School? Want to understand how to get the most out of high school?

We've written the best guide to Highlands High available. Here we'll cover:

  • Breakdowns of student ethnicity, gender, and family income
  • How safe Highlands High is to attend
  • SAT/ACT/AP scores earned by Highlands High students
  • Which AP/IB classes you can take at Highlands High
  • Every sports team you can join at Highlands High

Let's get started!

Basic Information

Highlands High School is a public school, supporting grades 9 to 12 . It's located in North Highlands, CA in Sacramento County.

Based on its location, Highlands High is classified as a school in a large suburb. Here's the location on a map:


Contact Information

Mailing address:

Highlands High School
6601 Guthrie Way
North Highlands, CA 95660-3911

Phone number: 9165663465

Highlands High School homepage: https://haad-trusd-ca.schoolloop.com/

Principal: Darryl Hawthrone
Email the principal: [email protected]


Student Demographics

Student Enrollment

The total enrollment at Highlands High School is 823 students, making it a somewhat large high school, in the top half of all California high schools by size.

As a mid-sized high school, Highlands High strikes the balance between size and comfort. There will be enough students to provide a diversity of experiences, like clubs and sports, for you to join. But it'll be small enough that you'll likely get to know most people in your class.


Growth in Student Body Size

Is Highlands High School growing or shrinking? This will help you see trends in where the school is headed.

From our calculations, the enrollment at Highlands High has increased over the past few years. We calculate this by comparing enrollment in grades 9 to 12.

Male Students Female Students All Students
9th grade 120 94 214
10th grade 119 113 232
11th grade 100 88 188
12th grade 110 79 189

As you can see in the table above, the freshman class is 25 students larger than the senior class. This suggests that the school is growing in size and taking on more students.

There are a few reasons this could be happening. The city of North Highlands could be growing in population, thus sending more students into Highlands High. Alternatively, Highlands High could be relaxing its student policies and taking in more students.


Gender Split

Are there more boys or girls at Highlands High School?

From our statistics, Highlands High has a 55:45 split between male and female students in the high school grades.

Highlands High has a balanced male-female ratio that's largely representative of the general population in Sacramento County. Since the student body is roughly half and half, it should feel like there are equal numbers of boys and girls in your classes.

This usually means that Highlands High doesn't strongly select for either males or females, unlike other schools that have a large majority of males or females.


Ethnicity Breakdown

What's the racial diversity at Highlands High School? Does one ethnicity make up most of the student body, or is it fairly balanced?

From our statistics, Highlands High has a diverse student body. No single ethnicity composes more than 50% of all students, which means you'll be surrounded by a diverse set of students in class. Only a third of California schools show this much diversity.

The most common ethnicity at Highlands High is Hispanic. In California, 51.5% of all students are Hispanic, making it the most common ethnicity. Even though Highlands High is relatively diverse, students of Hispanic descent are the most common ethnicity here.

Percentage Number
American Indian/Alaska Native 1.0% 9
Asian 6.0% 50
Hispanic 45.4% 374
Black 13.8% 114
White 27.7% 228
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0.3% 3
Two or more races 5.4% 45

High schools usually reflect the population in the surrounding area, so the ethnicities of students likely resembles those of North Highlands. If you'd like to see how other nearby schools look in diversity, just google "[name of school] prepscholar" to find our guide to that specific school.


Income Level of Highlands High Families

What are the family incomes of students at Highlands High School? To determine this, we look at the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches, a classification by the US federal government.

To qualify for a reduced price meal, family income needs to be below 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. For a family of 4, this means an income of around $45,000 or below.

To qualify for a free meal, family income needs to be below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. For a family of 4, this means an income of around $32,000 or below.

The lower the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals, the higher the income levels are likely to be.

At Highlands High, 6.5% of students qualify for reduced-price lunches, and 81.1% qualify for free lunches.

This means Highlands High has a high percentage of students at or near poverty. Almost a third of all schools in California show this level of poverty, and by National Center for Education Statistics standards, Highlands High can be classified as a high poverty school. The income level of families in North Highlands is thus likely to be low.

Number Percent
Reduced-price lunches 54 6.5%
Free lunches 668 81.1%
Do not qualify for reduced-price or free lunches 101 12.2%

As with ethnicity, this likely reflects the surrounding community in North Highlands and doesn't speak much about the school itself.

Unfortunately, schools in areas of lower income levels are likely to be more poorly funded. As a result, they might feature less advanced coursework like AP/IB classes, and you may not have a full range of sports and extracurriculars to draw from. Because Highlands High is an especially high poverty-level school, it might not have the resources you need to meet your full potential.

You definitely don't have control over the city, the school, or other families, but you can structure your own learning to be more productive. If you'd like to open yourself to more opportunities, you can look into whether it's possible to transfer to a nearby school with higher income levels.

If not, don't be alarmed - it's possible that Highlands High has all that you need for your ambition. And you can definitely be proactive about learning outside of your school, looking to your community or to the Internet to find more resources.

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School Safety

How safe is Highlands High School to attend? Can you expect a lot of conflict as a student here?

To study this, we look at disciplinary data for two types of incidents at Highlands High: referrals to law enforcement (when incidents are reported to police), and arrests.

These are the most serious disciplinary actions available to school administration and are more severe than suspensions or expulsions. Suspensions are often discretionary and can be given just for being disruptive in class. In contrast, law enforcement referrals and arrests often indicate incidents that put the safety of other Highlands High students at risk.

In the school year of 2011-2012, there were 61 referrals to law enforcement (41 male, 20 female), and 0 school-related arrests. This is out of a total enrollment of 880 students.

To put this into perspective, most California schools (59% of them) reported 0 law enforcement referrals and arrests.

This means that 6.9 Highlands High has major safety issues. For every 100 students, there were 6.9 law-enforcement related actions. This is a very high number that puts Highlands High in the top 10% of schools with disciplinary actions.

With this record, is Highlands High School significantly different from other schools in the area? It could be that Highlands High has an especially bad record, or it could be that the local area shows a pattern.

Compare this school with other high schools in the same school district, using the following table:

Twin Rivers Unified School District Safety

School Name Total Referred Total Arrests Enrollment
Foothill High 62 6 353
Grant Union High 0 0 2026
Rio Linda High 0 0 1843
Elwood J. Keema High 2 0 730
Pacific Career And Technology High 0 0 131
Miles P. Richmond 0 0 42

Academic Performance


Now we get to a major aspect of assessing a high school: academic performance. How good of an education will you get at Highlands High School? Will you be competitive for college? Will you have access to advanced classes?

We've compiled everything we could find about Highlands High's academics here.


Graduation Rate

To start off, an important benchmark of academic achievement is graduation rate. For all students who start high school at Highlands High, the state of California wants as many students to graduate as possible, since a high school diploma can mean a big difference in getting a job.

At Highlands High, 67% (of 225) Highlands High students graduated within four years of starting high school.

Here's how this stacks up to other schools. The California state government has defined 90% as a target rate. The state average is around 80-85%.

Highlands High is in the 33rd percentile of all public high schools in California for graduation rate. This is below average. Generally, a graduation rate of above 90% is considered good and well above average, and below 75% is well below average.

Note: This data comes from a few years back, but the trends are likely to stay the same, since schools don't get significantly better or worse within a short period of time.

Standardized Testing


Next, we'll look at another major piece of high school academics: standardized testing performance for Highlands High School students. These are tests that are administered to large populations of students for comparison purposes.

Let’s start by taking a look at the data for nationally administered standardized tests.

SAT Scores

As you probably know, the SAT is a critical test used for college admissions. The higher the score you get, the better your academic performance compared to students nationwide, and the easier it is to get into top colleges.

We did in-depth research and found the average Highlands High School SAT scores.

The average composite SAT score is a 1260 out of 2400, compared to a national average of 1500. Each year, roughly 81 at Highlands High take the SAT.

This is a very low SAT score, putting Highlands High in the bottom 25% of all California schools, and well below the national average. Only 17% of SAT takers here score above the national average. Unfortunately, this suggests that most students attending Highlands High are not high-achieving, and may find it difficult to be admitted to a good college.

Note, however, that an average is just an average - you still have the potential to rise above expectations. If you work hard and earn an SAT score well above Highlands High's average, you'll have a great shot at entering a good college.

Keep in mind, however, that only 9% of all students at Highlands High took the SAT, so the results could be skewed by the small sample size.

Here's a breakdown of SAT scores by section:

Average SAT Scores (2013-2014)

Source Critical Reading Math Writing Composite
Highlands High 417 437 412 1260
California 498 510 496 1504
United States 495 511 484 1490

Note that the SAT has since changed to a 1600 scale, but the trends above for your high school are likely to continue. Just use this guide to convert between the old 2400 scale and the new 1600 scale.

To learn more about SAT percentile rankings, read our guide on what SAT percentiles really mean.

How good is 1260 as an SAT score? Find out with our complete 1260 SAT score guide, including which colleges you can get into with a 1260 or any other SAT score!

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ACT Scores

In California, the ACT is less popular than the SAT. Fewer students take the ACT, and typically these students are more motivated and academically prepared for college. Therefore, it's harder to compare Highlands High School ACT scores with the rest of the country.

At Highlands High, the average ACT composite score was 16, compared to the nationwide average of 20. Each year, roughly 31 out of 823 total students take the ACT.

Unfortunately, this is well below average performance, putting Highlands High in the bottom 25% of high schools in California. Most students who take the ACT here are well below the national average.

Since the ACT tests what you learn in school, this may be a warning sign that the quality of education you'll receive at Highlands High may be lacking compared to other schools.

Here are the average English, Math, Reading, and Science scores for Highlands High compared to California and the US:

Average ACT Scores

Source English Math Reading Science
Highlands High 15 18 17 17
California 21.8 22.8 22.3 21.7
United States 20.3 20.9 21.3 20.8

Scores provided are for the 2013-14 school year.

Find out more about percentile rankings and the ACT in this article.

Every individual is different. What counts as a good ACT score for you? Learn more with this article!

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Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college-level courses that are an additional academic challenge may give Highlands High School students credit for college.

Here's what we're looking for: high average AP test scores as well as high AP passing rates.

AP Scores

Every year, roughly 104 students in grades 9-12 at Highlands High take 164 AP exams. It's important to understand how students score on the AP - earning a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP test means passing the test and often earning college credit.

The average score of all AP exams taken at Highlands High is 1.7 out of 5.

Compared to schools across California, this score puts Highlands High at below average performance. On AP tests, the passing score is considered a 3, and unfortunately the number of students who don't pass is greater than the number of do. This performance places Highlands High School in the bottom 25 % of schools for AP tests.

This isn't all bad news for you, though. It's still good that Highlands High offers AP classes so you have the opportunity to take courses at a college level. Your school might be new to offering AP courses, and typically teachers get better at preparing students for AP tests over time. Finally, as you'll see below, there are still students who earn a passing grade of 3 or above - and with hard work, you can be one of them.

We have specific data on how many students got a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 (out of 5) on AP exams in the chart below:


AP Test-Taking Statistics

Another way to gauge the quality of a school's AP program is to see how many AP students actually took AP exams at Highlands High School. If a lot of students enroll in AP courses but don't actually take the AP tests, it can be a sign that students don't feel adequately prepared to take the test, or the school isn't encouraging students to take the exams enough.

At Highlands High, there is a total enrollment of 98 in AP courses (a student taking more than one AP course counts more than once).

Of AP-taking students, 23 took AP tests for ALL AP courses. 20 students took AP tests for SOME AP Courses, and 68 took AP courses but took NO tests.


This is bad test participation. Most AP students at Highlands High School take the AP exam for NONE of their AP courses. This is an unusual situation, as the goal of an AP course is typically to take the standardized national AP test.

What you want to figure out is why so many students take AP courses but end up not taking the course. Do they not feel comfortable enough taking the AP test, knowing they may not pass? Or is it hard for Highlands High students to take AP courses? Good people to ask are your counselors and AP teachers.

Hopefully, you may find that there are just logistical issues with taking AP tests that you might be able to overcome. However, you may also learn that the AP courses at Highlands High don't prepare students well enough for the test, which reflects poorly on the AP program at your school. If the AP resources available to you don't give you confidence, consider self-studying to prepare for the AP test.

Note: The most recent data we have available is from 2012, so the statistics may have changed since then. Most likely, however, the trends are likely to continue - above average schools are likely to stay above average, and below average schools are likely to stay below average.


AP Passing Rates

For AP students at Highlands High School who take the exam, it's important to know how they do. Here we have specific data on how many students got a passing grade (a 3 or above) on all, some, or none of the AP exams that they took.

Of all AP test takers, 0 students passed every AP test they took, which is a fantastic job. 0 students passed some but not all AP exams, and 26 students didn't pass ANY AP exam they took.

 

To find out the passing rates for specific AP courses at Highlands High School, you'll have to talk to your guidance counselor (who can then help you find that information). For instance, one AP Calculus teacher may have an above-90% passing rate, while another might only have a 50% passing rate. If you can, you'll want to take the class with the teacher who has more students get a 3 or above on the AP exam.

Find out more about the average score for each AP subject here.


State Tests

As of 2014, eleventh graders attending Highlands High School must take standardized tests in English/Language Arts and Math as part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). These align with the new Common Core standards and are called the "Smarter Balanced" tests.

If Highlands High students meet or exceed state standards, they're academically prepared to graduate high school and go to college. Specifically, we care about the percentage of students who meet or exceed state standards. The larger this number, the higher the preparation of students at Highlands High.

English/Language Arts

At Highlands High School, 42% of students meet or exceed state standards in English/Language Arts.

This is considered below average and puts Highlands High in the bottom 50% of all high schools in California for English/Language Arts. The majority of Highlands High students do not pass state standards, and only a small percentage pass.

This specific percentage isn't much cause for concern - because the Common Core is new, the pass rate at Highlands High will likely rise over time. But it still reflects Highlands High's below average standing among California high schools.

English/Language Arts Test Results (2015)

 

Read more about what’s measured in each ELA area score here.


Math

The other major test taken for state assessments is Math. Across the state, Math performance is generally lower than English/Language Arts performance, so it's natural for this number to be lower.

At Highlands High School, 18% of students meet or exceed state standards in Math. This is considered well below average and puts Highlands High in the bottom 25% of all high schools in California. The vast majority of Highlands High students don't meet state standards, and only a small percentage pass.

Math Test Results (2015)

 

Read more about what’s measured in each Math area score, go here.


Academic Offerings


In addition to the standard high school curriculum, many high schools like Highlands High School offer advanced coursework as part of the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

Brief Intro to AP/IB

AP and IB courses are designed at the difficulty level of college introductory classes. There are several important benefits to taking advanced coursework at Highlands High. First, taking more advanced classes shows colleges that you're committed to challenging yourself academically, and that you're one of the more advanced students at Highlands High. Taking AP/IB classes also raises your weighted GPA and makes you a stronger college applicant.

Furthermore, many colleges will accept your Highlands High AP/IB coursework as college coursework. In some cases, you'll be able to skip introductory-level classes and move to more advanced classes. In other cases, you'll be able to avoid having to take required courses and might even be able to graduate earlier than the standard 4 years. Often this will require you to pass the AP test, getting a score of 3 or above.

So what advanced courses does Highlands High School offer?

AP Courses

Highlands High School offers AP courses in 9 subjects.

This is a relatively low number of AP subjects, putting Highlands High School in the bottom 50% of California schools offering AP courses. You'll likely be able to take the most popular courses like Calculus, English, and US History, but you won't have most other subjects available.

The total number of AP subjects is 38, so Highlands High is missing most. If you want to take any AP courses not being offered at Highlands High, ask your counselor for ideas on how to cover the gap. If you're a strong student, you might consider transferring schools to access a more advanced curriculum.

Of course, keep in mind that even though Highlands High doesn't offer many AP courses, it might teach the ones it does offer quite well. You can see student performance in the AP score analysis section above.

The following AP courses were offered at Highlands High during 2015-2016:

Course Title
Biology
Calculus AB
English Language and Composition
English Literature and Composition
European History
Spanish Language and Culture
Statistics
United States Government and Politics
United States History

Sports Teams

Finally, we'll cover which sports teams are available at Highlands High School. Sports are an integral part of many students' high school experiences. The more sports that are available, and the more levels supported (Frosh, JV, Varsity), the more likely you'll be able to participate in a sport at Highlands High.

By the way, the Highlands High mascot is the Scots. Go Scots!

Highlands High School fields 13 teams for girls' sports. This is a sizable number that puts Highlands High in the top 50% of California schools that offer girls' sports. You won't get the full range of sports and levels, but you'll be able to try out for a few options. If you participate in a sport that Highlands High doesn't offer, consider looking for a local non-school team that you can join.

And now for the boys: Highlands High School fields 18 teams for boys' sports. This puts Highlands High in the top 50% of California schools that offer boys' sports. You won't get every sport and level possible here, but you'll have a decent number of options. If you participate in a sport that Highlands High doesn't offer, consider looking for a local non-school team that you can join.

Boys Teams Girls Teams
Lacrosse
Var JV Fr
Lacrosse
Var JV Fr
Basketball
Var JV Fr
Basketball
Var JV Fr
Golf
Var JV Fr
Golf
Var JV Fr
Tennis
Var JV Fr
Football
Var JV Fr
Wrestling
Var JV Fr
Volleyball
Var JV Fr
Volleyball
Var JV Fr
Baseball
Var JV Fr
Softball
Var JV Fr
Trackfield
Var JV Fr
Trackfield
Var JV Fr
Crosscountry
Var JV Fr
Crosscountry
Var JV Fr
Soccer
Var JV Fr
Soccer
Var JV Fr

What’s Next?


Want to get more useful information about high school classes and preparing for colleges? Our blog has a ton of articles and advice on topics ranging from coursework and GPA to letters of recommendation, extracurriculars, and much more!

Ready to bulk up your schedule and maximize your college preparedness? Read all about the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.

Not quite in high school yet, but eager to get started? We've also got information for younger students interested in advanced learning opportunities, both in and out of school.

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Sources

The data on this page is drawn from a variety of sources, including (but not limited to):