Students enrolled 2242
School leader Julie Mottershaw

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1615 San Marcos Boulevard
San Marcos, CA 92078

School website
(760) 290-2200
(760) 736-8275
Nearby homes for sale
Map of San Marcos High School address.

4 stars
Based on 53 ratings

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think about this school

June 14, 2014
top notch sports teams, zero tolerance bullying, lots of clubs, strong sense of pride and beautiful brand new campus with top notch technology

- submitted by a parent
December 17, 2013
I can go on about this school, but i won't! Let just say you are better of sending your kids to a charter school! Specially if your kids are mexican! I'm not going to get into details about this, lets just say some teachers are perverts! The assistant pricipal MR. Zeith thinks his the owner if your child! He will BELITTLE YOUR KIDS AND HUMILIATE THEM IN FRONT OF THEIR PEERS! His so out of control with his attitude that the staff will ask him if everything is ok? He needs to learn his place! Don't raise your voice at my child!!

- submitted by a parent
November 15, 2013
So basically the class of 2012 carried this entire school on its back. The API under this amazing class went from 774 to an all time high of 859 and the school went from unranked to ranked 11 nationally according to US News and World Report. This class fundamentally changed the attitudes of all the staff at the school, who were now uplifted and inspired by how awesome the class of 2012 was. Now that the class of 2012 is gone, the API has slowly dripped from the all time high of 859 to 858 the next year and 857 this year. Also, the school ranking has plummeted off a cliff. As you can see, although no other class can hope to come close to the class of 2012, the positive influence left in 2012's wake has caused all the teachers to be about 329% more effective. If you are to enroll your kid in this school, do so immediately before all of the magic voodoo placed on the staff by the class of 2012 wears off for good and the school reverts back to its middling baseline level. God bless the United States of America.

- submitted by a parent
September 09, 2013
Currently I wrote a review about my school that wasn't that great. I was very angry with the school at that time. I wish I could take it back. I got the chance to talk with the assistant principle, Mr. Zeait, we discussed what happened. It was just a misunderstanding. He was very cool about it.

- submitted by a community member
September 06, 2013
This school is probably the worst school I have ever gone to. I am currently a in my second year of high school and the year just stated a few weeks ago. So far I have had three different things stolen from me and today was one of those times. Also today, the assistant principle Mr. Zeait pointed directly at me and said something about how "All you little freshman" should come to the football game. Now, I am a good student so he wasn't mad at me or anything. I guess that he thought that it would be a good I idea to point me out and not only say what he did, but honestly it hurt my feelings. Obviously, I'm writing this because I'm very frustrated with the San Marcos High school as a whole. I know parents may write awesome things about how great their kids high school is but honestly you should probably take some advice from someone who has to go there almost every single day. Thank you for reading, I hope this helped.

- submitted by a community member
April 29, 2013
SMHS is a school that keeps improving. The AAPLE academy is awesome and allows kids to challenge themselves at the top level. The creation of the Entrepreneurship Academy is such a brilliant idea! Teachers there are wonderful and care for their students. World History teacher Mr Burrows is incredible but so are Ms Mandarino, Mr Bausbach, Mr Roth and Mr Holdren! San Marcos deserves to be more recognized. And the students there are much more friendly and humble than in Dos Pueblos or in Santa Barbara High. It is simply a nice community! I am very happy my child is part of the Royals.

- submitted by a parent
March 23, 2013
Overall I am very pleased with this school. It has a very positive vibe and the teachers are very conscientious. I enjoyed the Shadow your Knight day and was impressed with each teacher. I asked my child if the teachers were always that awesome, and he said yes. I love the school spirit of this school. We love going to the basketball games. My ONLY complaint so far is that I was very unimpressed with one teacher (I won't elaborate), and administration absolutely REFUSED to let my child switch teachers. I was told he COULD switch teachers but he'd have to drop honors. I felt this was very unfair. I have never asked to switch teachers with any of my children in ten years. I have always taught my kids that they have to get along with whomever they get as a teacher. I knew this teacher was not a good fit for my child. I am still upset about this. Anyhow, other than that...AWESOME!

- submitted by a parent
May 30, 2012
Unfortunately, the US News ranking is based on inaccurate data from the federal government. Still look forward to my kids attending, and think it's a fine school.

- submitted by a community member
May 24, 2012
Hey people, just look at U.S. News ranking of high school's in CA and you'll see SMHS ranked #3. That is a huge achievement and should be acknowledged. I have 5 kids and none go to SMHS, but I am thinking of relocating and this is one of the areas I am looking at, just because of the school.

- submitted by a community member
November 21, 2011
I struggled initially with letting my kids attend SMHS. My perception was one of a lesser quality of education and on campus concerns. I now have a senior and freshman at SMHS and couldn't be more pleased with what they have and are experiencing at the HS. My senior now has the opportunity to attend a number of top level colleges due to his HS achievements. If you take advantage of what is offered at SMHS and choose to get involved, there is no better HS in the county, but that is a matter of choice. I glad we didn't spend the equivalent of college tuition to send our kids to a private school or get lured in to the need to attend LCC or TP, even despite the inconvenience of the construction.

- submitted by a parent
September 17, 2011
This is in reply to the last review posted........So many parents objected to having their children moved off campus during construction. This is the reason your children are being subjected to construction woes. Originally, an off campus site by CSU was offered, but way too many parents complained about this. We have to deal with the mess until our new beautiful, high tech school is finished. Sorry!!!

- submitted by a parent
September 16, 2011
What a really disorganized mess this school has become. Student parking lot is half a mile away from campus. My daughter also has to deal with the demolition dust from asbestos-laced buildings from 50 years ago. So what are they going to replace those old portables with? NEW PORTABLES! Where are the classes for their interim campus going to be held? Portables again! I am not sure she will be attending here next year.

- submitted by a parent
August 24, 2011
Look at the district website and the school accountability report card (SARC). SMHS has had student profieciency BELOW state averages in math for the past three years. In other areas, they are barely treading water with the state averages. For the district, they are under state averages. How the API is at 829 is mystery to me.

- submitted by a parent
August 20, 2011
My time at SMHS is unforgettable. After discussing my high school experience with college peers, I have come to appreciate the education I received at SM. I was surprised to hear about poor quality of teachers at other CA high schools, and it has made me realize that SMHS is one of a kind. I'm also completely appreciative of the emphasis on writing & the collaboration between History & English teachers because it has helped me easily transition to college level papers. I'm skeptical of "5 faculty transferring their kids" because I didn't know a single faculty member that lives in SMUSD that sends their kids to another school. In fact, many faculty that don't live in SM transfer their kids to the school- some from as far as Santee. There are a ton of students that transfer from outside the district, especially Vista and Escondido, due to its great reputation in recent years. I would completely disregard any reviews in which the individual merely vents about the passage of Prop K. Just because you are mad about the tax increases doesn't mean SMHS isn't a great school. SM offers a real-world (diversity) and memorable experience, and no parent should hesitate to send their kids there.

- submitted by a community member
August 02, 2011
Oh my. I was scarred to say anything about what I experiances were. Great schools, thx for this site! I know of five teachers and staff of SMUSD that send their kids elsewhere to school. I didnt know it was this bad....I have two daughters who went to this school and my family will now be moving elsewhere.

- submitted by a parent
August 01, 2011
Seems to me the last reviewer does not have enough information in order to review this school based on the first sentence. The second sentnece is not true at all. Seems that this person might be just a disgruntled person unhappy with the passage of prorp K. To rank a school with one star when one is completely not informed is disgraceful. Campus programs that improve the community and create global awareness among students have helped earn San Marcos High School an inaugural United Nations award that recognizes positive actions. This school does not have a culture of mediocrity. It meets the needs of a diverse population, just check out the api scores on this website and be sure to look at sub catagories and compare them to every top high school in san Diego. You will find they are higher than all!

- submitted by a parent
no rating February 02, 2010
I am very pleased with the education provided by SMHS. My son graduated last year and is now attending UCSD earning mostly A's, which indicates that SMHS grads are ready for college. He was able to pass 8 AP tests while enrolled at the high school due to the excellent instruction; this will allow him to graduate from college in 3 years saving us alot of money. This school is very diverse and offers many opportunites for students to succeed. Since the school isn't as large as other local high schools, students have many opportunities for participation in sports and clubs.

- submitted by a parent
October 18, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a community member
September 28, 2009
My two daughters have received a great education and the since of community is extraordinary.

- submitted by a parent
September 15, 2009
Wow what a fantastic school! I am so pleased with the interest my daughter now shows in school. The teachers are wonderful!! Every interaction I have had with the staff has been pleasant and professional.

- submitted by a parent
August 30, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
August 19, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
August 15, 2009
San Marcos HIgh School is a great school. It has friendly staff and the campus is kept fairly clean. I am going onto my sencond year at this school and I am proud to be a Knight!

- submitted by a student
May 23, 2009
San Marcos High School is one of the best high schools in San Diego County. It combines student diversity with a competitive environment which enables students to grow and succeed. SMHS, overall has improved tremendously, receiving a 9 in the similar schools ranking, meaning that SMHS performs better than 90% of its most comparable schools based on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc. Sports and academics have improved greatly in only the last couple of years. And the recent valedictorian will be attending Harvard on a full ride scholarship.

- submitted by a parent
April 29, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
September 02, 2008
I live in San Marcos and was doing my best to move to any school in the Poway district. Anything but San Marcos. I am so glad we stayed. I graduated from Vista and at that time San Marcos was known for its teen girl s ability to increase the campus size after a nine month period. Boy how times have changed. While my child was still in eighth grade, SMHS had an orientation to introduce the faculty, programs and staff to the upcoming ninth graders. Then a week before school your child gets the chance to meet a Senior, Junior and Sophomore that will show them around and help them through graduation. SMHS also has a parent orientation as well. Things are much different since I went to HS. The kids are required to rent lockers and locks and no PE the last two years of HS. SMUSD is doing a good job.

- submitted by a parent
October 16, 2007
I actually transferred my child in to this school based on academics, diversity and the growing sports departments. Less students= better education with awesome faculty. The music program is awesome~! Boys volleyball, basketball, baseball and football are all improving with the new coaches that they have hired. The sports program is the new talk of the town. Watch and see - this school is on the map. More and more parent involvement is occurring due to the higher education level of parents that are purchasing homes in the newly developed San Elijo homes. I am proud to have my child attending this school. We have AP classes that are supporting students graduating to enter Stanford and UCLA.

- submitted by a parent
August 25, 2007
After homeschooling my girls for nine years, and then sending them to a small charter school for two, we decided to send them to SMHS. We have not looked back. I have been extremely impressed with the teachers and admininstrators. The academic work load is harder that what my girls got at the charter school, and they are happy that they are learning more. Don't judge this school by what you may have heard in the past - go visit it, talk to the principal and some teachers. The principal, Julie Mottershaw, is extremely focused and dedicated. You will be impressed with her. I'm not involved in the PTO because of my work load, so I can't comment on it. Otherwise - very happy with SMHS!

- submitted by a parent
July 03, 2007
San Marcos High school is the secret jewel of North County. Ask any parent or student who has attended this underrated school. All the tools are in place for academic excellence and kids are encouraged to get involved. So many parents who were reluctant to send their child to this school but did soon learns what a good place it is for their kids. Lots of opportunity to achieve!

- submitted by a parent
July 03, 2007
I have a one child who just graduated this year & is on his way to a four year university. My daughter who will be a sophmore this year has excelled & is enrolled in all AP classes. I could not be more excited about they way they treat each student with individual attention. Talk to the teachers & principal before you make your decision. They are open, honest & make SMHS a excellent school for your children to grow & learn. I am proud to say my children go to SMHS!

- submitted by a parent
March 28, 2006
It appears Ms. Peterson has the school moving in the right direction. The athletic program needs to improve.

- submitted by a parent
February 17, 2006
My son transferred from Scripps Ranch High School. I was worried because he was content at Scripps and played Varsity ball. He was welcomed with open arms by both students (to my surprise) and faculty. The administration has an open door policy and has been prompt when responding to my needs or questions. I have found the parents of the other students concerned and involved in the development of their young men/women. Overall, I am quite pleased with my son's education. R. Moore

- submitted by a parent
January 18, 2006
I am pretty happy with SMHS. My daughter graduated 5 yrs ago and went onto a great private 4 yr college. My son is currently in the 10th grade and doing pretty good. The high school is much nicer since it has a amaller student population.

- submitted by a parent
September 22, 2005
Driven by the need to normalize the behaviour of the students. Everything else secondary.

- submitted by a student
September 11, 2005
We were worried that the high school was not the right place for our daughter. Now that she is there she is involved in everything and is loving it. The one concern we have is that there are no business classes like the other school in the district.

- submitted by a parent
August 29, 2005
Academics need more funding, but the school spends the money on the athletic fields. Parent involvement is nearly non-existent.

- submitted by a parent
August 29, 2005
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a student
August 19, 2005
I have 3 students at San Marcos HS in San Marcos, CA (not San Marcos HS in Santa Barbara!) My freshman are in the traditional 11th grade math curriculum. Their Honors Biology text is college level. No other high school in California, perhaps in the United States, offers an Honors Genetics and a Biotechnology Laboratory course that prepares students for advanced level college work. Music, with a new director in 2004, posted first and sweepstakes prizes at Marching Band competitions; Jazz and Concert Bands are ranked superior (see www.smhsmusic.com). However, the academic side would be unbalanced without the rest of the campus experience. My daughters'friends' parents speak Spanish, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Polish and Italian as well as English. Regardless of economic background,students learn teamwork. As a parent volunteer I spend many Fridays on campus. Spend a day at the school before judging it based on second-hand comments.

- submitted by a parent
July 18, 2005
SMHS has shown lots of improvement recently, especially since the entrance of the new principal, Mr. Craig Morgan. Fund raisers are a big part of the school program, which gives many opportunities to students to venture beyond the limits of the highschool. The performing arts programs are accelerating, and SMHS is very suitable if your child is interested in a performing-arts background. Over the past year the quality of SMHS has sky-rocketed, well done.

- submitted by a student
July 05, 2005
Everything is really impersonal! Most teachers don't care about your personal situations and the principal is very impersonal.

- submitted by a student
June 29, 2005
This is certainly a school on the way up. I am consistently impressed with the effort shown by the teachers and I can't count the number of times the teachers praise the administrators. A very positive environment!

- submitted by a parent
June 16, 2005
San Marcos School District just opened its second comprehensive 9-12 School, which dropped the enrollment of SMHS to about 1500 students. The faculty and administration are attentive and effective in their responsibilities to the students. The curriculum is challenging. The new Humanities Program ties together History, Literature, English and Social Science making a more comprehensive approach for learning. Although the school is 40 years of age, millions of dollars have been spend to keep it current including a new science building, refurbished library, synthetic turf football field and campus landscaping. Principle Nancy Peterson provides effective leadership and strong values. Parent support from Boosters and the Parent Teacher Organization is strong. My challenge to the District is to provide more counselors to assist students in their educational pursuits in High School and and beyond.

- submitted by a parent
June 06, 2005
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a administrator
June 10, 2004
I have had two students who have graduated from San Marcos High School, one in 2003 and one this year 2004, both were accepted to great universities. I was very impressed with the quality of education my students received. I would like to thank the teachers, counselors and staff for the support they gave to my students. I would also like to mention that the commencement ceremony was the most impressive commencement ceremony I have ever been to. I thought it was great last year and this year it was even better. Thank you so much for making it so special for the students and the parents.

- submitted by a parent
May 25, 2004
My son is graduating from San Marcos High School this year. We live in Carlsbad but are in the San Marcos School District, so he attended La Costa Meadows Elementary School, San Marcos Middle School, and San Marcos High School. I admit I was anxious when the middle school and high school years approached. After all, most of my neighbors moved out of the district so their children could attend La Costa Canyon High School and my husband and I questioned our decision to stay numerous times. But I can honestly say that he received a great education while in a good, safe environment. Thanks to all the teachers, counselors, and administrative staff.

- submitted by a parent
April 17, 2004
San Marcos High school received a CC&R Review from the state (Coordinated Compliance Review). The person reported she always sees schools with high academic scores but she had never sees a school that meets needs of so many different students as well as this school. SMHS is a school where kids from many different backgrounds have the opprotunity to achieve and find their nitch. The emphasis on higher education is strongly encouraged. Many students are accepted at top Universities while many continue their education at community colleges. I have one that graduated and is attending University and two currently enrolled. I am pleased that they all have a positive experience, have access to an adequate number of honor or AP classes, and most importantly they do not have to deal with the social issues that often is associated with some high socio-economic schools. Kids are happy here!

- submitted by a parent
April 17, 2004
My son has been at SMHS for 4 years, graduating in 2 months. I've loved SMHS and feel it it a great school in a great district!

- submitted by a parent
April 17, 2004
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
April 17, 2004
Both my children left San Marcos High school and went directly to top universities. This would not have been possible in this, or any other California high school, without a huge amount of parental involvement, specific counseling on course requirements, expensive extracurricular activities on and off campus, and daily encouragement. Even though San Marcos provides the tools for college prep, it has had a history of minimal expectations for teachers and students. That is now changing for the better thanks in part to money being tied to academic success. Younger, energetic teachers are replacing many retirees. There is a new, enthusiastic principal on board this year. A new high school is due to open in the fall of 2004 for grades 9 to 11 reducing unmanagable overcrowding. I have been involved with this school for ten years and I am pleased to see excellent, solid plans for the future.

- submitted by a parent
April 16, 2004
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a student
January 05, 2004
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
September 09, 2003
This school has had the same problems for the past 20 years or more. Too many teachers and counslors that are only there to pick up a pay-check. I can't remember that last time that they had an Athletic-Director that could accomplish any thing other than a power trip. This school is failing not only academically but also with athletics.

- submitted by a parent
August 25, 2003
It is a shame that SMHS is moving in the wrong direction. Programs for 'gifted' kids continue to be inadequate. These kids deserve great teachers and programs. Transportation is a huge problem now. New principal might help improve things, if she can be a true leader. Administrators need to stop blaming the budget problems and focus on solutions. (You are beholden to the kids, not your union.)My 10 yr. old will NOT be going to SMHS.

- submitted by a parent
August 10, 2003
This information is not correct. This school no longer provides transportation. Students may utilize public if they live with in a 3 mile radius of the school; however, student live upto 10 miles away (in town) parents are stuck with the burden for the next year. And one final note the traffic on the two major roads to the high school are under constuction because these roads are unable to handle the traffic. Insult to injury you might say.

- submitted by a parent
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San Marcos High School
1615 San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos, CA  92078
(760) 290-2200
Last modified San Marcos High School is a Public school that serves grades 9-12. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 9 out of 10 based on academic quality.
San Marcos High School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 54 reviews. Top