Idaho has one of the lowest average SAT scores in the country. Where did it go wrong?

Standardized testing has become less critical for college hopefuls in recent years after the COVID-19 pandemic closed testing sites nationwide, forcing secondary education not to require SAT or ACT scores for several years.

Even as the world slowly returns to normal, over 1,700 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions in the United States won’t require standardized testing for the fall 2023 semester, according to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Boise State, Idaho State and the University of Idaho all fall into that category.

Although tests like the SAT and ACT are falling by the wayside for college admissions, they remain essential for other college-related things, such as scholarships and class placement.

But Idahoans seem to be at a disadvantage, according to an analysis of 2022 SAT results from Learner, an online tutoring website.

The SAT — which involves testing on reading, writing and language, and math — is scored from a minimum of 400 to a maximum of 1,600. The national average is 1,050.

Idaho ranks as the state with the 40th-lowest average SAT score at 986, 64 below the national average.

Learner: States with the Highest and Lowest SAT Scores

The Gem State has the lowest average score in the northwest U.S., followed by Washington (1,096) but trailing far behind Wyoming (1,244), the second-highest in the nation.

Where did it all go wrong?

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a massive surprise that Idaho ranks so low for SAT scores. Since 2018, 66 books and series have been challenged in Idaho school districts, ranging from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series to Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris.

Meanwhile, the Gem State has been ranked in the bottom 25% nationwide in education and dead last in spending per pupil, according to previous Statesman reporting.

Even at the secondary level, Idaho doesn’t stand up well. Personal finance website WalletHub ranked the top 900 universities in the U.S. in October 2022. Only two Idaho universities made the top 500: The College of Idaho (235th) and the University of Idaho (438th).

But it’s not all bad for Idaho. U.S. News and World Report ranked the top 5,000 secondary schools last year. Nine schools in the Treasure Valley made the cut, including Boise High School (926th) and Timberline High School (1,086th).

The best and worst SAT scores

Wisconsin, Wyoming and Kansas lead the way nationally for total average SAT score, closely followed by Idaho’s neighbor Utah in 4th place.

Here are the bottom 10 states for average SAT scores, including Idaho. The list stops at 48 because Missouri and Tennessee tied for 11th, and Hawaii and Virginia tied for 21st.

39. Michigan (1,000)

40. Idaho (986)

41. District of Columbia (985)

42. Florida (983)

43. Illinois (981)

44. New Mexico (976)

45. Rhode Island (971)

46. Delaware (968)

47. Oklahoma (951)

48. West Virginia (938)