2023 SAT Day participation dropped, while scores improved

The number of Idaho’s SAT test-takers declined sharply in 2023, and scores improved markedly. 

Last spring, only 64% of the state’s juniors took the college entrance exam on the school-sponsored SAT Day.  In 2022, 97% took the exam.

SAT exams are no longer required, but all schools must offer them 
Districts and charters can choose to require the exam “to enforce participation at their discretion,” even though the state does not require them (the state’s requirements are the minimum).
Since 2020, many colleges and universities have dropped SAT and ACT scores as an admission requirement, though students can often opt to include them in their applications.
Still worth taking? The Idaho Department of Education advises students that “
high scores on college entrance exams can help make a student’s application for scholarships or college admission more competitive.”
For more information on the SAT and other exams, check out our Spelling it Out

At the same time, scores jumped — 34% of test takers met both benchmarks on the exam, an increase from 28% the year prior. Reaching the benchmarks indicates college readiness in two content areas: reading and writing, and math. 

The decline in participation comes after the State Board of Education stopped mandating that Idaho students take a college entrance exam to graduate, as was the case in pre-Covid years. 

Because the exams are no longer required, statewide SAT results were not publicly shared in 2023, like they usually are. 

EdNews requested the 2023 SAT Day results at the end of November, and did not receive them for another two months. Maggie Reynolds, a spokesperson for the IDE, said the delay was due to difficulty obtaining the data from the College Board. 

Those results show that while participation hit a low, scores are the highest they’ve been in five years. 

For a complete dataset on SAT Day performance by district, go here. For a complete dataset on SAT Day performance by school, go here.

Statewide SAT scores since 2019

Scores climbed this year, as greater percentages of students met academic benchmarks. Here’s a look at SAT scores and participation over the past five years.

Note: The 2023 SAT Day results provided by College Board have not been verified (i.e., “matched” to existing student enrollment records) by the Idaho Department of Education. The verification process improves the data quality, but does not drastically change it.

Year % meeting both benchmarks % meeting EBRW* benchmark % meeting math benchmark % of juniors who took the test
2023 34% 60% 36% 64% 
2022 28% 53.3% 30.5% 97% 
2021 29% 53.2% 31.2% 90% 
2020 32% 58% 33% 100% 
2019 30.8% 56.1% 32.6% 100%

*evidence-based reading and writing

SAT Day data, by the numbers:

  • 16,000: the number of Idaho juniors who took the exam on SAT Day in 2023. 
  • 25,000: the number of Idaho juniors in 2023. 
  • 5,500: the number of test-takers who met both benchmarks
  • 6,100: the number of test-takers who met no benchmarks
  • $1.2 million: the cost to taxpayers to administer the SAT in 2023

Top-scoring districts and charters

The districts and charters below had the greatest percentage of students meeting both SAT benchmarks in the state. They all also had relatively small numbers of test-takers. 

A number of districts’ and charters’ data was redacted, so not all are represented here.

District % meeting both benchmarks # of test takers
Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy 94 49
North Idaho Stem Charter Academy  90 20
North Star Charter 82 33
Meridian Technical Charter High 78 36
Whitepine Joint School District 73 15
Compass Public Charter 66 50
Vision Charter 66 29
McCall Donnelly Joint 66 71
Victory Charter 64 25
Gem Prep Online 62 26

Performance of districts with highest number of test takers

Here’s a look at SAT performance at the districts with the greatest number of test-takers. 

District % meeting both benchmarks # of test takers
West Ada 49 1896
Boise 42 1627
Bonneville 31 903
Pocatello/Chubbuck 34 864
Nampa 15 835
Coeur d’Alene 32 684
Idaho Falls 29 647
Jefferson 39 494
Twin Falls 42 401
Madison 40 384

This year’s SAT School Day in Idaho will only be offered digitally for the first time, and will occur sometime between March 4 and April 26. 

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


Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Reporter Carly Flandro works in EdNews’ East Idaho bureau. A former high school English teacher, she writes about teaching, learning, diversity, and equity. You can follow Flandro on Twitter @idahoedcarly and send her news tips at [email protected].

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