Things That Matter

The SAT Is Adding An “Adversity Score” That Will Take Socioeconomic Status Into Account During College Testing

College-bound students taking their SATs will soon be assigned an adversity score, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The College Board, the nonprofit that oversees the standardized test, said it would implement what it calls the “Environmental Context Dashboard,” which would measure the student’s social and economic backgrounds to better capture their “resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.”

“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, chief executive officer of the College Board, said in a statement. “No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context.”

The score factors in aspects like a student’s home and neighborhood environment, like the crime level, the median family income and family stability, as well as the high school’s average senior class size, the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches and the academic achievement in Advanced Placement classes.

The data will be gathered from records like the US census and the National Center for Education Statistics. From there, students will be scored on a scale of 1 to 100, where 50 would be considered average and any number above that points to additional hardship.

Only colleges where students have applied, not the applicants themselves, will be able to see the scores.

According to CNN, the Environmental Context Dashboard has been piloted at 50 colleges and universities. They hope to expand it to more institutions in the next year.

“This [adversity score] is literally affecting every application we look at,” Jeremiah Quinlan, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, one of the schools that has used the adversity score, told the Wall Street Journal. “It has been a part of the success story to help diversify our freshman class.”

The new score comes amid a college admissions scandal. In March, it was revealed that several celebrity and wealthy parents were paying their children’s way into elite universities. Some parents paid bribes to have the SAT taken by other students.

But the problem of inequitable college admissions extends back much longer. The College Board says it has been concerned about income inequality influencing SAT results for several years. In 2018, for instance, white students scored better on average than Black and Latinx students, while Asian students scored higher on average than white students. They also found that children of parents who are wealthy and college-educated typically score higher than their peers.

“We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT,” Coleman said.

Read: If Aunt Becky Isn’t Paying For You To Be Admitted Into College, Try These Latino-Specific Scholarships And Studying For Your SATs

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Advocates against the use of standardized tests for college admissions have long argued that the use of such exams sets back students from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have disabilities. Aware of the leg up it gives to privileged and non-disabled students an advantage in the admittance process, they’ve rallied for schools to end such practices.

And it looks like they’ve just won their argument.

A judge has ruled that the University of California system can no longer use ACT and SAT tests as part of their admissions process.

Brad Seligman is the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California on Tuesday. The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California include five students and six organizations College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition.

In his decision, Judge Seligman underlined that the UC system’s “test-optional” policy on UC campuses has long given privileged and non-disabled students a chance at a “second look” in the admissions process. According to Seligman, this “second look” denies such opportunities to students who are unable to access the tests.

The decision is a major victory for students with disabilities and from underprivileged backgrounds.

News of the decision comes on the heels of the university system’s ruling to waive the standardized testing requirements until 2024.

In May, a news release asserted that if a new form of a standardized test had not been developed by 2025, the system would have to put an end to the testing requirement for California students. On Monday, the judge’s ruling took things further by banning the consideration of scores from students who submit them all together.

“The current COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test sites,” Seligman wrote in his ruling. “While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil.'”

A spokesperson for the University of California said the university “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.”

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the UC system is considering further legal action in the case. The system said that its testing has allowed for an increase in admission of low-income and first-generation-to-college-students for the fall of 2020.

With UC being the largest university system in the country, Seligman’s ruling is a massive deal. Students and advocates have long fought for the elimination of these standardized tests arguing that they do not accurately reflect a student’s academic ability.

“Research has repeatedly proved that students from wealthy families score higher on the SAT and ACT, compared to students from low-income families,” reports CNN. It’s important to note that the analysis by Inside Higher Ed revealed that the “lowest average scores for each part of the SAT came from students with less than $20,000 in family income. The highest scores came from those with more than $200,000 in family income.”

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For The First Time In History, Latinos Make Up The Largest Group Of University Of California System’s Freshman Class— It’s Not Enough

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For The First Time In History, Latinos Make Up The Largest Group Of University Of California System’s Freshman Class— It’s Not Enough

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Updated August 13, 2020.

For the first time, Latinos make up a majority of students accepted into the University of California system. California is home to a very large Latino population and these incoming freshman class is being celebrated as representing California.

For the first time in its history, the University of California system admitted a class of majority Latino students.

According to data about admissions, Latinos represent 36 percent of the 79,953 students accepted to the UC system. Asian-Americans represent 35 percent of the new freshman class. Meanwhile, white people made up 21 percent, African-Americans made up 5 percent, and American Indian/Pacific Islander made up 0 percent. Three percent of students chose not to reveal their race or ethnicity.

Audrey Dow, senior vice president of the policy and advocacy organization Campaign for College Opportunity, spoke to The New York Times about the progress and said that while these shifts are momentous, they’re not enough. “But 36 percent of admits is far under proportional representation,” she told NYT in an email. According to the paper, proportional representation would be much closer to having 50 percent of students be Latino considering that more than half of high school graduates in California are Latino.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time as many students have been making their college decision in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “UC continues to see increased admissions of underrepresented students as we seek to educate a diverse student body of future leaders. The incoming class will be one of our most talented and diverse yet, and UC is proud to invite them to join us.”

The university system recently did away with SAT/ACT requirements.

Some think that the university system eliminating the SAT/ACT requirements explains part of the uptick in Latino students. In May, the UC system announced that students would not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission.

The standardized tests have long been accused of preventing minority and disadvantaged students from attending college.

The Compton Unified School District filed a lawsuit against the UC system in late 2019. The lawsuit, filed by four students and six community organizers, points out the racial bias of the tests that block disadvantaged and minority students from being admitted to college.

READ: In-Person Courses Have Been Canceled As Well As Recreational Activities, Now Students Are Protesting To Cancel SAT Exams Due To Coronavirus

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