Monday, June 5, 2017


In the second year of statewide administration of the "new" SAT, Boise District average scores improved over 2016.

The "new" SAT, which is aligned with the Common Core and reverts back to a two subtest exam with a total possible score of 1600, was introduced last year and provides information for improvement of instruction through provision of an item analysis and individual question analysis. District teachers have made use of the results to analyze student performance on specific skills.


It is important first to have a look at demographics. Free/reduced lunch percentages are our proxy for poverty levels. SAT performance is reflective of poverty, as a general rule. But we also need to consider the percentage of students who are classified as "Limited English" or "English Learners" since the Boise District has a relatively high percentage of students who are learning English (and the highest percentage of refugee students in the state of Idaho).

In Boise, the "Language Learner" category is especially important when looking at high schools. Borah High School is the District's "newcomer" school, where our refugee students who are new to the country attend.

As you can see, the Boise District's percentage of FRL high school students is lower than that of the state, but two high schools (Borah and Capital) are higher. However, the percentage of District "Language Learners" is about double that of the state, and Borah is about four times higher.

Our "Language Learners" do very well after high school, with a high percentage going on to college (especially those who are part of the AVID program). But as you might expect, it takes a while to pick up the English language, which is especially true when you're using a test like the SAT, which uses literary passages and pieces from content areas such as science and social studies as the sources for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW ) comprehension and analysis questions. Math, which is thought of as the "universal language" by some, is also difficult when all of the problems are story problems.


The SAT now has two subtests, ERW and Math. Each is scored on a 200-800 scale, so the top possible score is 1600.

As you can see, the District average total score increased by 14 points, while the state average remained the same as in 2016. Boise High had the largest growth in average total score, increasing by 26 points. Borah and Capital were up by 9 and 7 respectively, and the Timberline average score dropped by 2 points.

Here are the average subtest scores by high schools and for the District and Idaho:


According to the College Board:

"The college and career readiness benchmarks for the new SAT predict a 75 percent likelihood of achieving at least a C in a set of first-semester, credit-bearing college courses. The benchmarks are set at the section level, so there is a benchmark for Evidence-Based
Reading and Writing and a benchmark for Math."

The SAT benchmark scores for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) and Math are 480 and 530, respectively. 

Note that the percentage of students meeting the Math benchmark drives the percentage meeting both benchmark scores. Most of the time, if a student met the benchmark math score, he/she also met the benchmark in ERW. The District-wide percentage meeting benchmark is much higher than that of the state of Idaho in ERW (+10%), Math (+13%), and in the percentage that met both standards (+13%).

More to come soon as statewide results on the SAT are released in the next couple of weeks.