An SAT Day no-show: the Sugar-Salem saga

Idaho’s SAT Day scores provide a snapshot that covers most of the state’s high school juniors.

But not all of them.

All told, 17,470 of Idaho’s 21,367 11th graders took the SAT on April 12 — an 81 percent participation rate. That rate is high, in part, because SAT Day allows students to take the college-placement exam on the state’s tab.

But not every school takes the state up on the $1 million SAT Day offer.

Consider Sugar-Salem High School in Eastern Idaho’s Madison County.

Alan Dunn 2015
Sugar-Salem Superintendent Alan Dunn

Only a few students took the SATs in April, Superintendent Alan Dunn said Tuesday. Instead, most other students opted for the ACT — required by nearby BYU-Idaho, the most common destination for college-bound Sugar-Salem students.

“We don’t push the SAT,” Dunn said. “We don’t want to force kids to do something they don’t want to do.”

Sugar-Salem students still get to take the ACT for free, through a federal GEAR UP grant designed to encourage high school graduates to continue their education. And the ACT also fulfills a graduation requirement. Every high school student needs to take a college-placement exam, not necessarily the SAT.

Sugar-Salem’s SAT scores don’t even show up in the spreadsheets the State Department of Education released earlier this month. That suggests that fewer than five students took the SAT in April — since the state redacts these small data samples to protect student privacy.

More SAT news: See how your school or district fared, and see why the State Board of Education applauded the April results.