Another 60 percent goal: Higher ed task force wants SAT scores to improve

(UPDATED, 10:58 a.m., to reflect that Delaware will use the SAT to replace a standards-based test for high school students.)

Idaho’s higher education task force could set a number of ambitious goals — including a marked improvement in SAT scores.

One of the task force’s work groups wants to see 60 percent of Idaho’s high school juniors meet the SAT’s college- and career-readiness benchmarks by 2022-23.

That’s a big lift. In April, only 32 percent of Idaho high school juniors met the SAT benchmarks.

According to the College Board, the nonprofit that administers the SAT, students who score at least a 480 in math and science and 530 in math are likely to earn at least a C in introductory college courses. (Each section of the SAT is graded on a scale ranging from 200 to 800.)

The task force spent some time debating the SAT score goal during its Friday meeting.

Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, suggested the state is overtesting its high school students, and sending mixed signals in the process. Tenth-graders take the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s test that aligns to Common Core standards. Then, the vast majority of 11th graders take the SAT the following spring, at state expense.

Kerby, a retired school superintendent, suggested the state could improve SAT scores by dropping its high school SBAC exam.

It’s not that simple, as State Board of Education member Debbie Critchfield pointed out.

Under federal law, the state must administer a test to high schoolers that complies with state academic standards. That’s what the SBAC is designed to do.

Idaho requires high school students to take a college entrance exam in order to graduate, and most students take the SAT to fulfill that requirement. But the feds have not allowed states to use a college entrance exam to replace standards-based tests such as the SBAC.

One recent exception is Delaware; under its newly approved plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the feds said the state could use the SAT in lieu of the SBAC.