School Details

Palo Alto High School

50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 329-3701
9

(out of 10)

Public Grades 9-12 1887 students 15 students/teacher (CA avg is 21)

Test Scores by grade

73%
62%
25%
100%
100%
65%
86%
87%
58%
87%
89%
62%
41%
41%
16%
99%
98%
45%
6%
6%
38%
79%
79%
51%

California Standards Test (CST)

In 2011-2012 California used the California Standards Tests (CSTs) to test students in English language arts in grades 2 through 11; math in grades 2 through 7; science in grades 5, 8 and 10; and history-social science in grades 8 and 11. Middle and high school students also took subject-specific CSTs in math and science, depending on the course in which they were enrolled. The CSTs are standards-based tests, which means they measure how well students are mastering specific skills defined for each grade by the state of California. The goal is for all students to score at or above proficient on the tests.
  • This school in 2013
  • Palo Alto Unified average
  • California state average

% scale represents number of student who met or exceeded standards

18%
17%
13%
92%
87%
39%
38%
42%
41%
67%
75%
46%
81%
84%
52%
48%
50%
15%
96%
98%
76%
86%
88%
54%

California Standards Test (CST)

In 2011-2012 California used the California Standards Tests (CSTs) to test students in English language arts in grades 2 through 11; math in grades 2 through 7; science in grades 5, 8 and 10; and history-social science in grades 8 and 11. Middle and high school students also took subject-specific CSTs in math and science, depending on the course in which they were enrolled. The CSTs are standards-based tests, which means they measure how well students are mastering specific skills defined for each grade by the state of California. The goal is for all students to score at or above proficient on the tests.
97%
98%
83%
97%
98%
84%

CA00019

None
  • This school in 2013
  • Palo Alto Unified average
  • California state average

% scale represents number of student who met or exceeded standards

34%
25%
15%
85%
89%
51%
76%
74%
32%
83%
83%
48%
27%
16%
8%
93%
93%
49%
68%
72%
58%
84%
82%
50%

California Standards Test (CST)

In 2011-2012 California used the California Standards Tests (CSTs) to test students in English language arts in grades 2 through 11; math in grades 2 through 7; science in grades 5, 8 and 10; and history-social science in grades 8 and 11. Middle and high school students also took subject-specific CSTs in math and science, depending on the course in which they were enrolled. The CSTs are standards-based tests, which means they measure how well students are mastering specific skills defined for each grade by the state of California. The goal is for all students to score at or above proficient on the tests.
  • This school in 2013
  • Palo Alto Unified average
  • California state average

% scale represents number of student who met or exceeded standards

About this school

Palo Alto High School is a public high school in Palo Alto. The principal of Palo Alto High School is Kim Diorio, who can be contacted at kdiorio@pausd.org. 1,887 students attend Palo Alto High School and identify primarily as White, non-Hispanic; Multiracial; and Black, non-Hispanic. 2% of the Palo Alto High School students are "limited in English proficiency." 7% of the 1,887 students here have subsidized lunches. The ratio of students to teachers at Palo Alto High School is 15:1. Esther B. Clark School is one of the nearest high schools.

Extracurricular activities

Arts

  • Band
  • Ceramics sculpture
  • Chorus
  • Computer arts
  • Dance
  • Drawing painting
  • Orchestra
  • Photography
  • Theater drama
  • Video film production

Languages Taught

  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Mandarin
  • Spanish

Sports

  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading
  • Crew
  • Cross country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse
  • P.E. classes
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo
  • Wrestling

Student Ethnicities

Ethnicity School District
White, non-Hispanic 53% 47%
Multiracial 4% %
Black, non-Hispanic 3% 3%
Asian 27% 28%
Unspecified 12% 13%
Hispanic 10% 8%
Filipino 1.0% 0.6%
Asian/Pacific Islander 0.7% %
Pacific Islander 0.7% 0.6%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.5% 12147%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.4% 0.1%

Student Subgroups

Subgroup School District
Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch program 7% 8%
Limited English proficiency 2% 10%

Community ratings & reviews

  • (9 months ago)

    Academically competitive accepting community but sometimes cliquey nice course variety and mostly caring teachers. There is a lot of peer pressure to get into a "good" college and teachers are most accessible when students personally email them and set up an appointment. It can sometimes be difficult to reach teachers during tutorial sessions because there are so many other students trying to do the same. The school could improve on having a school board/administration that's much more connected with the student body. Although clubs aren't extremely popular at Paly there is a strong effort to get kids involved. Choir program and athletics at Paly are renowned. Lots of ongoing construction but it will be worth it because the newer facilities are really really nice (ie. math building media arts building lacrosse field pool). Limited parking space. Sucky school dances. Library is too loud and I wish the Silent Study Room was bigger and made with cubicles and actually silent. Overall friendly people very diverse (you can find any kind of person you want) and excellent academics (particularly in the math and social studies department. sciences and English are OK)

  • (1 year ago)

    Blatantly put Palo Alto High School is academically challenging. All the students in the top lanes are extremely driven and a "B+" is not considered an acceptable grade by many. Stanford University is right across the street and it is a constant reminder of the importance of academic success. Moreover if you do not find your classes academically stimulating PALY offers opportunities to skip lanes. Also if you finish all your math classes before you graduate you get the opportunity to take theoretical calculus at Stanford University which is right across the street.

  • (2 years ago)

    As a 1961 Paly grad reading the comments below not much has changed through the years. The postings of July 12 2012 by a student July 14 2011 Oct. 27 2010 could have been taken out of the anals of 1961. When we attended our 50th Class Reunion in Sept. 2011 one thing seemed to be uniform we looked back on Paly as having been an exceptional school (a premiere public school competitive with private College Prep schools of the day) and the fact that we'd received an excellent education. We learned at Paly what others are learning at college level. Current students may not see it now but you'll look back in years to come and appreciate the quality of education provided at Paly as exceptional. We were told "you can go to college wherever you choose but we're preparing you to qualify to get into Stanford or Cal." Very high standards! An amusing fact is that several classmates were told by their counselor to not waste their time going to college inferring they weren't going to amount to much. A number of them not only have multiple college / postgrad degrees but also became multimillionaires. Don't let anyone count you out just because they lack vision for you!!!

  • (2 years ago)

    Some teachers are great some not so much. The student community here is grouped up into exclusive groups (cool here nerds there etc.) Some are nice some are not. Because of this its hard to make new friends if u are new. School campus is great and the school has lots of money so the resources are plentiful. Sports are also good we won several state championships.

  • (3 years ago)

    When you see the school meet the teachers and interact with the highly motivated students you would never guess this is a public school. The teachers are Palo Alto High school (Paly) work hard to ensure a wonderful education for the students as well as a friendly atmosphere. Over Paly offers a well rounded educations that both parents and students love!

  • (4 years ago)

    Some teachers are ok but most are terrible and don't teach. My daughter has been told repeatedly she is not smart enough by one.

  • (4 years ago)

    Great school great teachers great leadership and bright kids. A winning combination.

  • (5 years ago)

    We have a number one football team! All of my siblings and my children have gone to PALY and graduated. They have a great monthly flea market to support the music program. Please vote for PALY so they can build a new theatre and keep the sports programs going

  • (5 years ago)

    Palo Alto High School recruits and retains excellent teachers who light the fires of the intellect rather than just trying to stuff information into the students' heads. The kids at Paly learn material and explore ideas I never heard of until I was at University. Also cliquishness is minimal and individual character and expression are encouraged. Extensive free peer tutoring is available teachers welcome students during office hours and the counselors and Academic Resource Center are tops. Additionally fine extracurricular on-campus groups such as the Robotics Club provide both an outlet for talent and enthusiasm and opportunities for real public service the Robotics Club recently won an award for the various useful equipment they have invented to help a local quadriplegic man live more independently. Paly is wonderful!

  • (5 years ago)

    In alot of ways Paly is more like college. The course offers are diverse and the teaching staff are enthusiastic and highly qualified. There are extensive foreign language offerings and exchange student programs are done every year. If you put out the effort you can avoid all the sports/school competativeness/clique bull. The Gay Straight Alliance there has been going strong for over 10 years and the campus is one of the most lgbtq friendly around. The arts programs have their own building with enough space for 4 choirs a band and visual arts space including a full sculpture area with kiln. To top it all off Lavar Burton does every commencement speech because his sister is on the faculty.

  • (5 years ago)

    College is easy after Paly.

  • (5 years ago)

    We're right next to Stanford so good influence comes from it. We have open campus and a lot of freedom which gives us responsibility and fun ) Our departments are top notch and they also offer extensive tutoring. The campus is beautiful as well. I love PALY. Go Vikes!

  • (6 years ago)

    I came from another school district prior to my freshmen year. People here aren't always accepting but there are definetly a few oustanding good friends. As the third quarter is wrapping up I'm completely transitioned and adapted to Paly. Because of the wealthy district we as students have more opportunities and choices for classes and can spend more money on giving the best to our school

  • (6 years ago)

    The teachers are awesome and the kids are great. The pressure is intense but that is to be expected considering the location and the community. There are all kinds of kids at Paly not just rich kids. That is what makes it a great school.

  • (6 years ago)

    Paly has been and always will be an amazing school. It is rated highly since it is one of the best public schools in the nation. Those who find it otherwise often do not utilize all of this amazing school's resources. I think it stands on it's own; Paly is fantastic in all aspects.

  • (6 years ago)

    I really have no idea why this school has such a high rating. I personally find most of the classes aren't very informative and say that they have among the hardest class courses which they don't. The choir however is very excellent. Perhaps it's only redeeming quality.

  • (8 years ago)

    great attentive teachers safe environment

  • (9 years ago)

    The classes at paly high are geared for college. Also strong parental involvement (discipline) coupled with the quality of teachers and curriculum which are very important factors for a successful academic standing are found here! Go paly!

  • (9 years ago)

    This is an amazing school. The academic departments could not be better! My child adores it. There is a great sellection of sports and other activities. Paly has many interesting clubs too.

  • (9 years ago)

    Great academic choice and high test scores. Large number of arts music technology and AP offerings. Arts program contains one of the few high school glass blowing workshops in the country. Open Campus Any student can enter or leave the campus at will.

See all reviews on GreatSchools

Overall score

(based on 44 ratings & reviews)

  • Teacher quality
  • Principal leadership
  • Parent involvement

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