It's not enough for North Hollywood High School Principal Randall Delling. He is a man who wants more. He expects it of himself, his faculty and his staff -- and his students, who return to school on Wednesday.
North Hollywood High School recently landed in the national spotlight by earning a Washington Post ranking in the top 1 percent of schools in the nation to prepare its students for college.
His students are scoring well on the California Standardized Tests with a rating of over 750 this past year, up more than 40 points from the previous year. In fact, the scores earned his school a friendly victory over Van Nuys High, and now that school's principal must dress up as North Hollywood High's Huskie mascot at an upcoming varsity football game.
Nearly 40 percent of his students make it into college, and not just the students in the school's magnet programs for the advanced sciences. With Project Step-Up, middle school students from families who have never been to college are groomed for it before they ever reach North Hollywood High.
Delling was named the California Secondary Principal of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators. Later this month he will attend a Washington, DC, conference with award recipients from around the country.
But all of that isn't enough for him.
"I'm not satisfied," Delling said. "We need another 43 points" on the standardized tests, he said.
When he goes to Washington to represent his school's achievements, people are likely to hear some straight talk from the former drill sergeant. Delling, who rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle, has a lot to say about standardized tests and college preparation.
"The whole measurement system is corrupt," Delling said of standardized tests. "It can fit assembly lines, but we're not producing bottle caps. We're developing human minds."
There are numerous problems with the tests, he said. By law, parents don't have to force their children to take the exam. Yet principals have to get 9 percent of their students to take it. Students say there isn't any incentive for them to do well.
"I ask students why they do so poorly and they say, 'It doesn't count for class grade, graduation or college admissions,'" Delling said.