Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho SATs higher than the average

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer

More Idaho seniors took the SAT last year and scores remained higher than the national average, according to results released Tuesday.

About 20 percent of Idaho’s class of 2004 took the test that many colleges require for admission. That’s about 7 percent more than the previous year, according to the state Department of Education.

Idaho students tested higher than the national average in both the verbal and math portions of the test. Math scores for the state were 539, down a point from the previous year. The score on the verbal portion of the test stayed the same at 540.

Nationwide, math scores were 518, also down one point from the previous year, and verbal scores were up one point to 508.

“While the test scores speak well for students, we try not to make a big deal of it,” said Allison Westfall, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education. Westfall said the 20 percent of students who took the SAT are probably also the state’s top students.

Though the students taking the SAT are typically high achievers, Lakeland Assistant Superintendent Ron Schmidt said the scores are still useful.

“We certainly use them with regards to curriculum effectiveness, no question,” Schmidt said, “and we use them as a measure of what our students are learning. If our kids were doing poorly, we would want to be looking at what we were doing.”

Though most local school districts, including Lakeland, had yet to compile test scores from its schools, state and national scores were released Tuesday. The scores are the last set from the old version of the test.

When students start taking the test in 2005, the SAT will include a writing section with a student essay, higher-level math and more reading passages. The change comes just as local students seem to have mastered the current form.

Spokane Public Schools, Washington’s third-largest district, handily beat the state average and scored their highest numbers ever.

The district’s average verbal score was 538, up five points from last year. The average math score was 536, up four points.

“Overall, the trend has been increasing,” said Nancy Stowell, a Spokane Public Schools associate superintendent. She credits the steadily increasing numbers to teachers who take SAT preparation work very seriously.

“It’ll be really interesting to see what happens when they change the format,” Stowell said.

Educators say the use of multiple tests helps evaluate student progress.

“No single measure gives us enough information,” Stowell said. “You’re always looking at triangulation.”

Nationwide, 1.4 million students took the SAT. A perfect score on the test is 800 in each category.

Besides seeing an increase in the number of Idaho students taking the SAT, Westfall said the state also had an increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests. Students scoring between 3 and 5 on the tests can qualify for college credits, Westfall said. And the number of students scoring in that range has increased 17.5 percent, she added.

Information on the revamped SAT and reports on scores for each state are available at