The Alpine School District may be spending less money per student than almost any district in the nation, but that's apparently not affecting students' academic achievement.

Alpine students are doing better each year on ACT and advance placement exams, and 1988 was no exception, though administrators feared it would be."We did so well last year that we were wondering if we could stay up there, but we did. We were a little worried," said Frank Cameron, Alpine's director of research and evaluation. "It scares me to think what's going to happen in 1989. We're going to drop someday."

But for now, Alpine students outscored their national counterparts in 14 of 15 areas on the test. The average Alpine score on the ACT has been better than the national average for 10 years.

Cameron said about 60 percent of the district's graduating class took the ACT, which is used by many universities as an entrance criterion. The test covers math, English, social studies and the natural sciences.

This year's composite score for Alpine students was 20, compared to a state composite of 18.9 and 18.8 at the national level.

One of the reasons administrators are so happy with the scores is that more students in the district are taking the test now and scores are still rising. They expected the opposite to be true.