South Dakota Students perform well on SAT 9

South Dakota Students perform well on SAT 9 South Dakota second-graders improved in all subject areas on a statewide basic skills test this spring, while the achievement level of fourth- and 11th-grade students was steady or showed slight improvement.

Eighth-grade scores state-wide declined slightly over last year; however, South Dakota's eighth-graders continue to have the highest average scores of any grade tested.

These results come from the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT 9), administered to more than 42,000 students statewide in grades 2, 4, 8 and 11. The tests are designed to measure achievement of South Dakota students in comparison to a national norm sample. The sample is selected to be representative of the nation's students in each of the grades tested. A percentile score of 50 represents the national average.

"South Dakota students continue to show strong, steady achievement on nationally norm-referenced tests like the SAT 9," said Ray Christensen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education and Cultural Affairs. "Along with these data, we are anxious to have the first results next year from new tests authorized by the Legislature that will gauge our students' progress against South Dakota-specific standards."

Second-grade students in South Dakota showed the strongest gains in this year's SAT 9 testing. Overall, second-graders improved by two percentile points from a score of 60 to 62 on all subjects.

The biggest improvement in second grade came in the science/social science subject area of environment, where the statewide percentile score increased from 58 to 61. Second-graders earned their highest scores statewide in reading and math, both at 63.

In grade four, the percentile score for all subject areas rose slightly from 62 to 63. Listening skills improved the most in fourth grade, rising two percentile points from 55 to 57. The highest subject-area scores in grade four were in reading, math, and social studies, all at the 65th percentile.

Eighth-graders' scores overall declined slightly form 67 last year to 66 this year. However, there was a one-point improvement (from 67 to 68) in the listening percentile at this grade level.

"Even with slight declines in most subject areas, our eighth� graders' achievement continued to shine, with percentile scores of 70 or better in thinking skills, social studies, and science," Christensen said.

Science was the highest of all subject areas tested in the eighth grade, at 75.

In grade 11, the percentile score for all subject areas remained unchanged from last year at 62. While the math scores in grade 11 declined from 69 to 68, all other subject areas remained steady or showed slight improvement. The strongest showing at this grade was in social studies, with a percentile score of 72.

The SAT 9 is the most widely used achievement test in U.S. schools today. The test features multiple-choice questions that emphasize thinking skills, with questions framed from classroom and real-life situations.

Schools already have received their test score reports and will further analyze and report classroom results this fall. School district data is available on the department's web site at

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