Idaho students' scores drop on SATs this year, results show

Idaho students showed promising results in the statewide Idaho Standards Achievement Test administered to elementary and high school students. But 11th graders taking the SAT — an important measure for those hoping to attend college — gave a less-than-stellar performance, state data released Monday shows.

"I'm looking forward to conversations with our school leaders and teachers, discussing what this data tells them about where students did well and where they may need more help," says Idaho state superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

click to enlarge State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra - IDAHO EDUCATION NEWS PHOTO
Idaho Education News Photo
State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra

Idaho juniors scored an average of 989 on the SAT this April, down from an average of 998 the year before. The perfect SAT score is a 1600.

The state has invested in the SAT in an effort to get more kids to go to college. Idaho requires all students to take a college entrance exam like the SAT in order to graduate, and the state provides the test at no cost to students, with results forwarded to four colleges for free.

Other states have seen similar drops in SAT scores. But state officials say they're puzzled as to why performance dipped this year. Karlynn Laraway, State Department of Education director of assessment and accountability, says the cohort of students possibly took the test less seriously than previous cohorts.

"Are these results a matter of attitude or aptitude?" Laraway asks in a news release. "We don't know."

The state was encouraged, however, in the ISAT — a completely separate test from the SAT. The ISAT is administered to Idaho students in grades third through eighth and 10th. Proficiency improved overall in both math and English language arts, by less than 2 percent.

"Idaho educators are working hard to align instruction to rigorous standards and equip students to meet the expectations of the new assessments, and that takes time to calibrate," Ybarra says. "It is good news to see improvements in student performance across the board."

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.