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Idaho Students, Parents Await Scores on 'New' SATs

But state education officials are quick to de-emphasize their importance

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School's out for the summer, but more than a few parents and students will be keeping a close eye on the mail. On Tuesday, June 14, Idaho school officials will release statewide data indicating how high schoolers performed on their Scholastic Assessment Tests.

The SATs, taken by thousands of college-bound high-school juniors and seniors, remain the benchmark for acceptance into many U.S. universities. The results for Idaho were not good in 2015, particularly in math and critical reading scores.

However, there were revisions to the 2016 SATs, including no penalties for guessing, a greater emphasis on word meanings and a new scoring range: 400-1600. Still, In anticipation of the June 14 results, the Idaho State Department of Education cautioned students and parents to avoid "using college board tests as a sole indicator of the overall performance." ISDE officials said administrators should not be "using test scores as the sole basis for important decisions affecting the lives of individuals."

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra went as far as telling Idaho Education News in 2015 that she wasn't even a fan of the "SAT Day" phenomenon, the one-day "test-athon," touted heavily by her predecessor, State Superintendent Tom Luna. Ybarra criticized what she called the "one-size-fits-all culture" propped up by the SAT Day approach.

As for SAT administrators, they said the old arbitrary benchmark of scoring 1550 out of 1600 was "very ambitious" and "never meant to judge a person's ability to succeed." This year, they said, the new SAT benchmarks "reflect a more realistic picture of satisfactory performance and college readiness," and the old SATs held students to college grade standards of As or Bs while the new SATs represent a 75 percent likelihood of a student achieving at least a C grade in the first semester.