The secret behind Kootenai’s SAT surge

Among the state’s top SAT performers, Kootenai High School is an outlier.

It’s a small public high school on Coeur d’Alene tribal reservation land, wrestling with steadily decreasing enrollment.

But in April, during the state’s annual SAT Day, the juniors who do attend Kootenai excelled. Kootenai’s 15 juniors posted an average SAT score of 1,526 — No. 10 in the state and No. 4 among non-charter high schools. Kootenai’s average SAT score improved by 191 points, the biggest increase in the state.

What’s the secret? Scott Maben of the Spokane Spokesman-Review went to Kootenai to look for answers. He found a school with small classes, where no students fall through the cracks — one benefit to low enrollment. He also found a community that has been willing to support supplemental tax levies, despite the area’s economic struggles.

The 191-point increase startled Principal Tim Schultz, but he was gratified to see his school hold its own.

“I like to see general public schools on that list with the charter schools,” Schultz told Maben. “We can turn out a heck of a product. Our kids are good.”

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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