For the sixth year in a row, Whittier Regional High's MCAS scores are rising.
So is the number of Haverhill students at the regional vocational school.
More than 95 percent of Whittier's students passed all three of the MCAS tests taken by sophomores — including mathematics, English language arts and science. More than 75 percent of the student population passed the test with either proficient or advanced scores.
Superintendent William DeRosa said the success was driven by teachers examining data from past years and giving practice tests.
"We look at classroom trends," DeRosa said. "It requires a great deal of time and work from the staff."
In 2005, the school was placed on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's "on watch" list because of poor scores.
As Whittier's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test scores increase, so too has the enrollment of Haverhill students at the school.
Total Haverhill enrollment at Whittier has increased from 731 students last year to 755 this year. Whittier also accepted 235 Haverhill students in the freshman class this year, up from 195 last year. DeRosa estimated 62 percent of Haverhill students who apply are accepted. Whittier has a total student population of 1,100.
DeRosa said the primary reason for the increased enrollment comes from better communication between Whittier's admissions office and the Haverhill middle schools guidance department.
"There's a real open line of communication," he said. "I think the middle schools are doing a better job preparing kids for an education. Everybody helps out in this effort."
Enrollment at Whittier from out-of-district communities, such as Lawrence and Methuen, has decreased from 50 last year to 25 now. Haverhill School Committee member Paul Magliocchetti said he appreciated Whittier's efforts to cut that number to make room for more Haverhill students, but said it is a "disservice" for the school to accept any school choice students if in-district students are still seeking seats.
Haverhill pays for about 65 percent of Whittier's budget each year. This year, Haverhill paid $7,236,187 to the school. Whittier serves students from 11 communities between Haverhill and Newburyport.
Last year, Whittier officials told the Haverhill School Committee they turned away Haverhill students who either didn't meet the academic and conduct standards for the school or performed poorly during the application interview. Haverhill School Committee members, however, said many Haverhill families didn't understand fully how the admission process worked or why their children didn't make the cut.
Joseph Bevilacqua, Haverhill School Committee president, applauded Whittier's MCAS efforts and the increase in students from Haverhill.
"We understand from Whittier better what their standards are," he said.
Bevilacqua also said he will push for a joint MCAS workshop with teachers from Whittier and Haverhill schools.