Monday, June 6, 2016


You may know that the SAT has been revised to comport with the Common Core Standards, and that the test is back to two subtests, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics. Thus, the total possible score on the test is now once again 1600, and each of the subtests has a maximum score of 800. For the past few years, the total possible score on the SAT was 2400, and each of the Reading, Math and Writing tests were worth a total possible score of 800.

The College Board turned around the SAT School Day results very quickly this year, and we received a spreadsheet two weeks ago with scores for every student, a breakdown of answers given for each for all items by student. In this post, we will examine some of the top-line results for the District.

The statewide SAT results will apparently be released sometime in June, and at that time we should be able to analyze statewide performance on the new test. Additionally, the College Board will release the exam (as it does every year), and, for the first time, will provide an item analysis for the test. The College Board has previously prepared an analysis only for the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, taken annually by sophomores statewide, and by all juniors in Boise in October.

Last year, results from the SBAC and the SAT were highly negatively correlated with poverty at the school level. In other words, higher scores were associated with lower levels of free/reduced lunch. Now, however, with the College Board providing an item analysis and releasing the test, we will be able to celebrate specific areas of strength on the assessment, and use the analysis to improve overall student performance in skills areas that are weaker. The SBAC does not offer such tools for the improvement of instruction.

Overall Results

The College Board recently set benchmarks for college preparedness on the EBRW and Math SAT subtests. The Reading benchmark score is 480, while the math benchmark score is 530.

 On the new SAT, the results are higher than on the old test - 70.2% of Boise juniors met the EBRW readiness benchmark, compared with 48% in Reading and 41% in Writing on the old SAT given in 2015.

On the new SAT, 45% of juniors met the Math college preparedness benchmark, a bit higher than in Math on the 2015 test, when 43% met the benchmark.

We were able to analyze the percentage of students who met both EBRW and Math SAT benchmarks, as well. 43% of juniors met both the EBRW and Math benchmarks, compared with 33% who met all 3 benchmarks on the old SAT.

Average Scores

Because the percentage of students meeting the EBRW benchmark was so much higher than in the past, the average District score was quite a bit higher than the combined benchmark score of 1010.  So though only 43% of students met both the Math and EBRW benchmark scores, 59% of Boise juniors met or exceeded the combined benchmark score.

High School Scores

It's important to understand that the SAT (and the SBAC) is highly correlated with student demographics. When you look at scores by school, you'll find a strong relationship between Free/reduced price lunch percentages and student performance. You'll also find that Limited English students typically perform less well on the test, especially on reading-related tasks. Now that the SAT is aligned to the Core, both subtests, EBRW and Math, have a lot more reading, which will make it even harder for Limited English students to score well.

That said, here are the Boise comprehensive high school average scores on the new SAT, accompanied by some demographic data for the schools.