SAT scores for 2020 seniors follow Idaho’s downward trend

Idaho’s 2020 high school seniors followed the downward trend of SAT scores, accounting for the third year in a row of lower results.

The 2020 seniors who took the SAT had an average composite score of 984 out of a possible 1,600 points on the test. This is down nine points from the the average score of 2019 seniors.

The SAT data for the 2020 graduating class comes before the COVID-19 pandemic, as most of these seniors would have taken the test during the spring of their junior year.

Idaho students are required to take a college entrance exam to graduate, a standard that was waived in the spring of 2020 (along with the cancellation of SAT Day in 2020) due to the pandemic.

Each year, Idaho spends about $1 million for all students to take the SAT. From the 2020 class, 20,640 students (nearly 100%) took the SAT.

The trend is not native to Idaho. The U.S. average has also dropped through the years, with the 2020 national average at 1,051 (down from 1,059 the year before).

While the composite score was down in 2020, the “college and career readiness” benchmarks in the test stayed mostly the same. The SAT monitors these scores for both math and evidence-based reading and writing.

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.

In 2020, 34 percent of Idaho seniors met the college and career readiness benchmark for math (the same as in 2019) while 57 percent met the benchmark for reading and writing (down one percentage point from a year prior). Thirty-two percent of seniors met both benchmarks, equal to the 2019 results.

Idaho sits in the lower end of states that report over 95 percents of their seniors take the SAT. In 2020, Idaho’s composite score ranked ninth of 10 states with participation over 95 percent. Just as in 2019, only Delaware fared worse than Idaho.

The drop in SAT scores mirrors the Gem State’s go-on rate, which has also continually dipped in recent years. Go-on rate is the percentage of high school graduates who continue their education beyond high school.

In 2020, Idaho’s go-on rate dropped to 38 percent, down from 45 percent the year before. Idaho’s go-on rate was as high as 50 percent in 2017.

A deeper dive in to the state’s go-on rate can be read here.


Idaho EdNews data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report. 

Nik Streng

Nik Streng


Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday