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.
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