Thousands of high school juniors take the SAT on Tuesday

Thousands of high school juniors across Idaho will take the SAT college placement exam Tuesday, with the state picking up the tab.

The State Department of Education has sponsored the $1 million SAT Day initiative for six years in an attempt to encourage more students to continue their education after high school.

All told 20,329 juniors registered with The College Board to take the test at $45.60 a pop, SDE spokesman Jeff Church said. In January, there were about 21,560 juniors enrolled.

Last year, 17,470 students took the state up on the offer, for an 81 percent participation rate.

But not every student agrees to take the SAT — even though it is free and high school students must complete a college placement exam in order to graduate. Some students pay their own way and take another test, such as the ACT.

Last year, only a handful of students in East Idaho’s Sugar-Salem School District took part in SAT Day. At the time, Superintendent Alan Dunn told Idaho Education News that most of his students instead took the ACT, since nearby Brigham Young University-Idaho requires it.

Even though some students prefer another test, the vast majority still agree to take the SAT for free. And state officials are encouraged by the results from the “new SAT,” which debuted last year.

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In 2016, Idaho students beat national averages in both portions of the test. Idaho’s average reading and writing score was 509, besting the national average of 498. Idaho’s average match score of 490 also beat the national average of 486.

Idaho’s average overall score was 999, while a perfect score would be 1600.

Aggregated results from Tuesday are expected to be released this summer.