Sponsored by Idaho Falls Community Hospital
few clouds
humidity: 84%
wind: 2mph WSW
H 44 • L 44

College entrance exams scores dropped post-pandemic


Share This

BOISE ( — Fewer Idaho high school juniors met benchmarks on their college entrance exam in 2021, compared to the pre-pandemic scores.

The State Department of Education Friday released some results from this spring’s SAT, and comparisons to 2019. The key results:

  • 53.2% of students met the evidence-based reading and writing (ERW) benchmark, down three percentage points from 2019.
  • 31.2% of students met the math benchmark, down 1.3 percentage points from 2019.
  • 29.1% of students met both benchmarks, down 1.7 percentage points.

The scores came from the April 13 “SAT Day,” when 19,713 juniors took the test during the regular school day.

“We expected there would be learning loss because of pandemic disruptions in the school year and in the previous spring,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a Friday news release.

The results show that Idaho has seen a decline in SAT scores for four consecutive years. Scores have fallen every year since 2017.

A college entrance exam is a graduation requirement for Idaho students, and juniors are able to take the SAT for free. SAT Day was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Idaho taxpayers invest about $1 million every year to provide the test to students.

The college entrance exam graduation requirement was waived for the 2020 and 2021 school years, but is still in place for the class of 2022. The State Board will revisit the topic in August.

After Idaho Education News filed a public records request for the SAT scores, the SDE released only partial numbers in its news release. The state released percentages of students who met college- and career-ready benchmarks on the tests, but did not release the actual test scores. Idaho Education News has requested the raw scores as well.

How did the districts do?

Among all school districts and charter schools where at least 20 students took the SAT, only nine had 50% or more students meeting both benchmarks. Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy had the highest rate in the state, with more than 90% of students meeting both benchmarks.

Elevate Academy had the lowest, with less than 9% meeting both benchmarks.

Here are the percentages of high school juniors who met the English and math benchmark scores, for select large districts:

Boise 41.6
Bonneville 30.4
Caldwell 9.6
Cassia County 21.9
Coeur d’Alene 35.7
Emmett 20.7
Idaho Falls 30.8
Jefferson County 32.6
Jerome 12.8
Kuna 24.6
Lakeland 31.1
Lewiston 31.8
Madison 38.6
Middleton 29.7
Moscow 52.3
Nampa 18.1
Pocatello-Chubbuck 32.5
Post Falls 34.4
Twin Falls 28.3
Vallivue 22.5
West Ada 36.0


SAT demographics

Here are the percentages of high school juniors who met the English and math benchmark scores, broken down by demographics:

All students 29.1
Boys 30.9
Girls 27.2
White 33.6
Hispanic 10.8
American Indian or Alaskan Native 9.6
Black/African American 12.1
Asian or Pacific Islander 45.8
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 25.0
Two or more races 29.7
Economically disadvantaged 14.8
Limited English proficiency 2.4
Students with disabilities 2.6
Foster students Less than 12.0
Homeless 9.4
Migrant 5.2
Military connected 32.7

Among student demographics, Asian or Pacific Islander students scored the highest, with 45.8% meeting both the ERW and match benchmarks. In second was white students, with 33.6% of students meeting both benchmarks.

Limited English Proficiency students scored the lowest, with 2.4% meeting both benchmarks. Just ahead were students with disabilities, where 2.6% met both standards.

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

This article was Originally posted on on July 16, 2021