Idaho SBAC scores improve across the board

Idaho students made slight but across-the-board improvements in the second round of the state’s new standardized test.

The State Department of Education released spring scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exams Friday morning, and state superintendent Sherri Ybarra touted the across-the-board gains.

“Even though this is just a snapshot in the day of the lives of our student, and just one of the many indicators that we have to measure growth, it does reflect the hard work that is being done by educators across our great state to support students in their educational achievements,” Ybarra said in a news release.

Idaho collects its SBAC “snapshot” each spring, when elementary and high school students take the lengthy online exam. The test is aligned to Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of the Common Core math and English language arts standards. Under federal law, third- through eighth-grade students are required to take a standardized test such as SBAC, and high school students must take the exam at least once.

Several promising trends emerged from the latest round of numbers:

  • In all grades, 53 percent of Idaho students scored either “advanced” or “proficient” on this spring’s ELA section. That’s an improvement from 51 percent a year ago. The state adds the advanced and proficiency scores to arrive at a proficiency rate.
  • Across all grades, the math proficiency rate came in at 42 percent this year, an improvement from 39 percent.
  • Digging deeper into the numbers, the SBAC scores improved at all grade levels, and in both math and ELA. These improvements ranged from 1 to 4 percentage points.

Overall, the latest scores followed some of the overriding trends that emerged a year ago, with the first round of SBAC results.

ELA scores generally improved in the higher grades. In high school, 62 percent of students received “advanced” or “proficient” scores on the ELA test.

Meanwhile, math scores drop as students advance into higher grades. Only 31 percent of high school students scored advanced or proficient in the math SBAC — a modest improvement from 2015’s 30 percent proficiency rate.

The low math scores are by no means an isolated occurrence: Idaho has been plagued by stagnant math results, even after a six-year $135 million commitment to a math initiative and teacher training.

In her 2017-18 budget proposal, unveiled last week, Ybarra recommends putting an additional $1.6 million into math coaches, as well as an additional $5.9 million for the second phase of Idaho’s literacy initiative.

“Work to support schools and students to achieve never ends,” Ybarra said Friday. “That is shown in our continued efforts to grow the ELA and math coaching models, improving early success in reading and mathematics, and putting more resources into technology to better support student learning.”

Local results

Here’s a look at the proficiency rates, across all grades, in Idaho’s 10 largest school districts. (To check out scores by district and charter school, click here to download our spreadsheet.)

English language arts


West Ada















Coeur d’Alene



Idaho Falls



Twin Falls












Meanwhile, charter schools recorded seven of the 11 highest proficiency rates in ELA, and the 10 highest proficiency rates in math.

The ELA top 11:

  • Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, Coeur d’Alene: 90 percent.
  • Victory Charter School, Nampa: 82 percent.
  • Sage International School, Boise: 79 percent.
  • Compass Charter School, Meridian: 78 percent.
  • North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, Rathdrum: 73 percent.
  • McCall-Donnelly School District: 72 percent.
  • South Lemhi School District, Leadore: 72 percent.
  • Genesee School District: 71 percent.
  • Xavier Charter School, Twin Falls: 71 percent.
  • Troy School District: 70 percent.
  • Taylor’s Crossing Charter School, Idaho Falls: 70 percent.

The math top 10:

  • Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy: 85 percent.
  • North Idaho STEM Charter Academy: 84 percent.
  • Compass Charter School: 79 percent.
  • North Star Charter School, Eagle: 71 percent.
  • Sage International School: 66 percent.
  • Legacy Charter School, Nampa: 66 percent.
  • Victory Charter School: 66 percent.
  • Liberty Charter School, Nampa: 64 percent.
  • Taylor’s Crossing Charter School: 62 percent.
  • The Academy Charter School, Chubbuck: 59 percent.

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.

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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