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Idaho's spring standardized test scores improved. But the SAT had lackluster numbers.

File photo: Idaho state officials admitted they were disappointed, and confused, by April’s SAT scores.
File photo: Idaho state officials admitted they were disappointed, and confused, by April’s SAT scores. Bluestocking

<h2>Spring test scores: a mixed bag</h2> <p>Originally posted on <a href=""></a> on June 18, 2018</p> <p><p>Scores improved — almost across the board — on Idaho’s standardized test.</p> <p>But at the same time, Idaho students lost ground on a key college placement exam.</p> <p>The State Department of Education released 2018’s test results Monday.</p> <p>The two tests are entirely different; only their names are similar. But both tests are important.</p> <p>The standardized exam, known as the Idaho Standards Achievement Test or ISAT, tests third-graders through high schoolers against the state’s Common Core standards.</p> <p>The SAT is Idaho’s college entrance exam of choice, and the lackluster numbers come <a href="">as the state is spending tens of millions of dollars</a> to try to encourage high school graduates to continue their education.</p> <h3>‘Good news’ on the ISAT</h3> <p>Numbers <a href="">improved in nearly every grade level</a>, and both in math and English language arts.</p> <p>The biggest improvement of the bunch: 44 percent of sixth-graders scored proficient or advanced in math, up from 40 percent a year ago. Elsewhere, proficiency rates held steady, or improved by one to three percentage points.</p> <p>Significantly, these proficiency rates didn’t drop in any grade level, in either discipline.</p> <p>“It is good news to see improvements in student performance across the board,” state superintendent Sherri Ybarra said <a href="">in a news release Monday</a>.</p> <p>While the numbers trended upward, some familiar gaps lingered.</p> <p>Students score better on the ELA section of the test — and their performance improves through grade school and into high school. Fifty-nine percent of 10<sup>th</sup>-graders scored proficient or better on the ELA section.</p> <p>In math, scores continue to drop steadily from third grade through high school. Only 33 percent of 10<sup>th</sup> graders scored proficient or better in math, a slight improvement from 2017.</p> <p>Ybarra’s news release highlighted snapshots of improvement in schools from Lava Hot Springs to Marsing to Nezperce, but the state did not release district- or school-level scores Monday. Those numbers could be released by late July.</p> <h3>‘Attitude or aptitude?’ A puzzling SAT drop</h3> <p>State officials admitted they were disappointed, and confused, by April’s SAT scores.</p> <p>On average, <a href="">high school juniors scored an average of 989</a> on the SAT, which has a perfect score of 1600.</p> <p>A year ago, <a href="">the average came in at 998</a>.</p> <p>Here as well, the split between verbal and math skills was considerable:</p> <ul> <li>Juniors averaged 503 on the SAT’s evidence-based reading and writing section. And 58 percent of juniors scored higher than 480 — the SAT’s college-readiness benchmark that suggests a student is ready for first-year coursework.</li> <li>Juniors averaged 486 in math, and only a third of them hit the SAT’s college-readiness benchmark.</li> </ul> <p>State officials said Idaho’s drop wasn’t unique, but they’re still unsure what happened this year. One official suggested this year’s juniors simply took the test less seriously.</p> <p>“Are these results a matter of attitude or aptitude?” said Karlynn Laraway, the SDE’s director of assessment and accountability. “We don’t know.”</p> <p>Regardless, the state has taken the SAT seriously, hoping it will serve as a springboard to college. The state spends about $1 million a year to allow juniors to take the test at taxpayer expense, and as a result, nearly 20,000 juniors took the SAT for free in April. This also means the SAT scores provide a broad cross-section of student performance.</p> <p>School- and district-level SAT scores could be available within a matter of days.</p> <p> </p> </p> <link rel="canonical" href="" /> <script id="idahoednewstracker" type="text/javascript" src="" data-original="" async="true"></script>