This story was updated 5/17/2019 to include comments from David Coleman, CEO of the College Board.
A student’s socioeconomic status will soon come into play when they take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
The College Board has created a new Environmental Context Dashboard that allows colleges to gauge a student’s so-called “adversity score” when weighing whether to admit them.
The adversity scores will be based on more than a dozen factors, including crime rates and poverty levels. Housing values, high school course rigor, free lunch rates and family income will also be factored.
Students will earn scores of 1 to 100. A score of 100 indicates hardship while lower scores indicate socioeconomic well-being.
The College Board sees adversity scores as a way to level the playing field between low-income students and their more affluent peers during the college admissions process.
” There is talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community – the children of poor rural families, kids navigating the challenges of life in the inner city, and military dependents who face the daily difficulties of low income and frequent deployments as part of their family’s service to our country,” David Coleman, CEO of the College Board said in a statement. “No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context.”
Studies have shown that students who have college-educated parents and who come from affluent backgrounds generally outperform students from low-wealth families.
Coleman said the dashboard will shine a “light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.”
The “Wall Street Journal” reported that 50 colleges used the adversity score in a beta test last year, and the College Board plans to expand the program to 150 institutions this fall.
The adversity score will be widely available in fall 2020.
Colleges will be able to see the number when considering applicants, but students won’t be told their scores.
Some universities that took part in the pilot program contend it helped their diversity efforts.
“We are proud that results from our pilot of the tool show that using the Environment Context Dashboard makes it more likely that students who demonstrate strength and resourcefulness in overcoming challenges are more likely to be admitted to college,” Coleman said.
One SAT critic said the new score is the College Board’s attempt to “defend” the use of the exam in the college admissions process.
“Promotion of adversity scores is the latest attempt by the College Board to defend the SAT against increasingly well-documented critiques of the negative consequences of relying on admissions test results,” said Robert Schaeffer, a spokesman for the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).
Schaeffer said the score is a concession that the SAT is not needed to make good admissions decisions.
“More than 1,025 accredited, bachelor-degree institutions now will evaluate all or many applicants without regard to test scores,” Schaeffer said.