Idaho SAT results continue to decline

Idaho’s class of 2019 was slightly less prepared for college and the workforce than graduates from the previous year, according to an analysis of SAT results.

SAT data released by the The College Board Tuesday morning shows Idaho’s most recent group of seniors scored lower overall, and met fewer college readiness benchmarks than the class of 2018. While the numbers dipped only slightly, they mark the second year in a row of declining performance on the test.

Seniors graduating in 2019 had an average composite score of 993 out of 1600 possible points on the SAT. That’s eight points down from the year before.

The slight dip follows a national trend. The U.S. average was 1059 points this year, down nine points from the 2018 average.

College and career readiness

In addition to compiling raw scores, The College Board establishes a benchmark for “college and career readiness” on the math and evidence-based reading and writing portions of the test.

If a student meets benchmarks in math or language, the College Board estimates that student is about 75 percent likely to score a “C” or better in a first-semester college course.

The percentage of Idaho seniors meeting these benchmarks in 2019 was down slightly from the year before. While the test results don’t show a massive shift in college readiness, they also don’t show signs of improvement as Idaho struggles to increase the number of students continuing their education beyond high school.

  • Some 58 percent of 2019 graduates met the college and career readiness benchmark in reading and writing, compared to 60 percent in 2018.
  • Some 34 percent of 2019 graduates met the math benchmark, down one percentage point from 2018.
  • About 32 percent of students met benchmarks in both math and language sections, down from 33 percent the year before.
  • And 40 percent of students met neither benchmark, up from 38 percent in 2018.

Comparisons to other states

Idaho is one of only a handful of states reporting more than 95 percent of graduates that took the SAT in 2019. That’s because seniors have to take a college placement test in order to graduate from school in the Gem State. Taxpayers invest about $1 million a year to pay for all juniors to take the test.

Compared to the other states with high participation rates, Idaho ranks among the worst.

In 2019, Idaho’s composite score was ranked ninth of 10 states with participation rates of more than 95 percent. Only Delaware fared worse.

The College Board report lists average scores for 49 jurisdictions (48 states and the District of Columbia), and Idaho placed No. 45. Only Delaware, the District of Columbia, Oklahoma and West Virginia had lower overall average scores.

However, it’s difficult to draw across-the-board comparisons. The rankings include states where nearly every student takes the SAT, states such as Idaho, with states with far lower participation rates. In states with low participation rates, the testing cohort tends to skew towards higher-achieving, college-bound students — and as a result, these states tend to post higher average SAT scores.

This year, the U.S. composite score was 1059, 66 points higher than Idaho’s average.

Idaho EdNews data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report. 

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