Science scores stagnate, and most students are not proficient

Student performance on the science portion of the Idaho Standards Achievement test stagnated this year, with 41.6% of students achieving proficiency — as compared to 41.4% in 2022. 

Notably, more than half of students tested are not where they should be. The test was newly developed last year, so this year’s results can only be compared to last year’s. 

The science ISAT is administered in fifth grade, eighth grade, and once in high school — as compared to the math and ELA portions of the test, which are administered to grades 3-8, and once in high school. 

That means fewer students overall take the science portion of the exam — about 66,000, compared to about 159,000 who took math and ELA — so results at the school level are often masked to protect student privacy. Because of that, EdNews is unable to provide top 10 lists by school like we do with math and ELA results. 

However, there is enough district-level data to create top 10 lists, which we’ve done below. We also take a look at the science results by grade level and demographics — which show a lack of improvement as students near graduation, and achievement gaps between the most at-risk students and their peers.

ISAT Science: top 10 lists

Before taking a look at these top 10 lists, consider these caveats:

  • A number of small districts had their results redacted by the state, so they are not represented on these lists.
  • These lists do not account for certain differences among districts, including: grade levels served, demographics of the students served, size/enrollment (data at smaller districts skews more easily), or geographical location (rural vs. urban).
  • Because of that, these comparisons are imperfect, but do provide an idea of where some of the state’s top performers are when it comes to science.
  • For a complete list of districts and their scores, go here. Districts with no scores entered had their results redacted.

Top ten traditional districts statewide

This list was dominated by smaller, more rural districts that are located throughout the state. The barrier to entry (48.3%) was much lower than it was on the nontraditional LEA list below (64.7%).

District % of students who achieved proficient or advanced on the science ISAT
Cascade  61.1
McCall-Donnelly 59.3
Kendrick Joint 58.1
Moscow 57.9
West Ada 57.5
Cottonwood 53.3
West Side  52.4
Pocatello 49.4
Grace Joint 49
West Bonner 48.7
Soda Springs Joint 48.3

Top 10 nontraditional local education agencies statewide

Local education agency % of students who achieved proficient or advanced on the science ISAT
North Idaho STEM Charter Academy 83
Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy 82.7
Victory Charter 77.5
Legacy Public Charter School 73.5
Gem Prep: Meridian North 73.1
Gem Prep: Online 71.9
Compass Public Charter 69.7
North Star Charter 69
Liberty Charter 65.4
Forrester Academy 64.7

Grade level trends and achievement gaps

The grade level breakdowns show a slight trend of decline as students near graduation:


Demographic breakdowns show that achievement gaps persist: Students learning English and students with disabilities had the lowest proficiency rates (9.3% and 10.8% respectively), while Asian students and students from military families had the highest (51% and 46.6% respectively). 


Achievement targets are not established for the science portion of the exam, as they are for the math and ELA sections. 

Further coverage of the 2023 ISAT: 

EdNews Data Analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report. 

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro reports from her hometown of Pocatello. Prior to joining EdNews, she taught English at Century High and was a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She has won state and regional journalism awards, and her work has appeared in newspapers throughout the West. Flandro has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and Spanish from the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University. You can email her at [email protected] or call or text her at (208) 317-4287.

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