Students at Lawrence High School set a new standard of excellence on the SAT, scoring more than 100 points above national averages on both sections of the exam.
There's a simple explanation for the unprecedented performance on the college-entrance exam.
"Some really bright kids took it," said Linda Allen, an LHS counselor.
This year's senior class at high schools in Lawrence Free State High School and LHS scored well above the U.S. average on the SAT.
LHS' average on the verbal section was 608, 102 points above the national average. On the math section, LHS test takers averaged 617, topping the national score by 103 points.
The verbal score at LHS increased 55 points over the previous year, while math was up 34 points.
That bucked the national trend, which is toward slowly rising scores during the past decade.
Free State High School's scores were more reflective of U.S. trends. Free State's verbal score was 588, up eight points. The school's math score was 586, an increase of seven.
The maximum score on each sections is 800. A perfect 1,600 was achieved by 587 of this year's graduates none in Lawrence.
National averages were 506 on the verbal, up one point; and 514 on the math, no change. Kansas averages: 577 verbal, up four points; and 580 math, no change.
Allen said student performance on college-entrance tests were a key factor in the awarding of scholarships.
"Colleges will use entrance exam cut-off scores for money," she said.
Sherry Slade, a Free State counselor, said the low number of SAT takers in the Lawrence district made it difficult to analyze results.
While 187 Lawrence students took the SAT in the 2000-01 testing cycle, 502 students took the rival ACT.
Slade said ACT scores were probably a more accurate reflection of the quality of education offered at high schools in Lawrence.
"It (SAT) is not as indicative of the whole population of the school," she said.
Higher student enrollment in challenging courses is credited with pushing Lawrence students' scores on the ACT to a five-year high, based on results released in August.
Free State and LHS both had an average composite score of 23.7 on the ACT. Thirty-six is the maximum on the 215-question, multiple-choice test on math, science reasoning, reading and English.
Free State's composite increased to 23.7 from 23.2. At LHS, it went from 22.9 to 23.7.
The Kansas average was 21.6, while the national average remained at 21 for the fifth consecutive year.
The ACT is more widely accepted by universities and colleges in the Midwest. SAT scores are commonly used by institutions on the coasts.
In Kansas, 78 percent of students took the ACT. Nine percent of students in the state took the SAT.