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.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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