Utah in the top 10 across nation in SAT scores; Desert Hills tops local ACT scores

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ST. GEORGE — Coming in at No. 8, Utah ranked in the top 10 in SAT scores from 2022 to 2023, according to a recent study by Nootroedge.

Stock image | Photo by MikeLaptev/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Local ACT data from 2018-23 shows new highs in several categories and upward-trending overall scores by Washington County School District high schools.

The Nootrosedge study delved into the average SAT scores per state to identify trends in academic achievement.

Out of the 50 states investigated, 11 showed improvement from the previous year, highlighting a trend of challenging testing for students across the nation. The study comes at a crucial time as the SAT, a standardized test utilized for 96 years, undergoes a significant transformation in 2024, transitioning to a fully digital adaptive testing format.

Thomas Riley from Nootroedge shed light on the significance of focus and concentration in academic success, emphasizing their role in navigating testing conditions effectively.

“Once at college, concentration will become an essential skill, and it can often be difficult to hone, especially for students with their ever-changing schedules or stacked exam schedules,” Riley said in a press release.

Leading the pack in terms of improvement was North Dakota, with a 6.19% increase in average SAT scores. Nebraska followed closely behind, securing the second position with a 2.45% improvement. Arizona claimed the third position with a 2.07% improvement in SAT scores, rounding out the top three.

File photo of Washington County School District office, St. George, Utah, July 25, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Utah and Vermont, with improvements of 0.49% and 0.37%, respectively, secured the eighth and ninth positions. Despite marginal advancements, they contributed to the overall positive trend observed in the study.

In contrast, the study identified Indiana as the state experiencing the most significant decline in SAT scores.

This study gives an insight into academic achievement in the United States at a crucial point in the SAT landscape. The local ACT will remain in its current format, where students are ranked on a scale from one to 36 on their proficiency in math, English, STEM and science classes.

“We do very well compared to other districts throughout the state,” said Cheri Stevenson, assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Washington County. “The best thing about ACT data is that it assesses critical thinking, problem solving, comprehension and higher levels of thinking skills in the content areas that are important indicators of success.  We want to ensure every student, in every school, and in every classroom master these essential skills in all content areas.”

Washington County had a six-year composite high of 19.9 and an English six-year year high of 19.2. It nearly matched highs in Math, Science and STEM, placing just a tenth of a percentage point off previous highs.

A graph showing yearly SAT trends for Desert Hills High School in St. George, Utah | Image courtesy of Nootrosedge, for St. George News

Desert Hills High School led all local schools in all categories including Math, Science, STEM, English, and Reading at 21.6 points.

Crimson High School, Snowcanyon, and Hurricane High had new highs in English.

Dixie High School and Millcreek High School had no six-year highs and are trending down from the previous year in all categories.

Enterprise High School has no new highs but is trending upwards in every category. Pine View had no new highs but stayed steady from previous years across the board. Water Canyon High had new highs in their composite score, math and reading.

See the full charts below.

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