Coming Soon to SAT “Adversity Scores” for Student’s Privileges

Coming Soon to SAT: “Adversity Scores” for Student’s Privileges

“We’ve got to admit the truth, that wealthy inequality has progressed to such a degree that it isn’t fair to look at test scores alone,” Mr. Coleman, the College Board CEO said. “You may look at them in context of the adversity students’ face.”

Through the recent surveys, it has been noted that the students with privileged backgrounds score much higher on standardized test than the students who face more hardships. The privileged students have access to various resources and they take full advantage of these benefits to score higher. On the other hand, the poor or the underprivileged students do not have access to a lot of resources to. They have to work really very hard with the limited sources to get the required scores.

The College Board is planning to give adversity scores to every student who appears for SAT to try and capture their social and economic background. The students will not receive these scores, but the college they have applied in, will get these scores while reviewing the application. These scores allow the colleges to glean some of the information from other parts of student’s application and helps make comparisons more consistent.

Last year, fifty colleges used these scores as a part of the beta test. Now, the College Board is planning on expanding it to 150 Colleges this fall and expanding more broadly in 2020.

The Adversity Index

The adversity score given to the students depends on various factors in their neighbourhood, families and their schools.

1. Neighbourhood environment

-Crime rate

-Poverty rate

-Housing values

-Vacancy rate

2. Family environment

-Median income

-Single parent

-Education level


3. High school environment

-Under matching

-Curricular rigor

-Free lunch rate

-AP opportunity

The adversity scores also known as the “Overall Disadvantage Level” will be given on a scale of 1 to 100 with an average of 50. Anything that is above 50 means hardship and below fifty means privilege.

For a long time, the critics of standardized testing have pointed out correlations between the SAT scores and the family income. They believe that high school scores are better to measure the potential of the students for college admissions.

The College Board, however, declines to tell how the adversity scores will be calculated or how these factors will be measured. The data that will inform the scores comes from public records like the census etc.

The College Board started developing this tool in 2015 because the colleges demanded more objective data on student’s background for the admission procedure. The main purpose of this tool is to get to the race without using race because race was less of a predictor of success than resourcefulness. Though the new tool has been embraced by college admissions officers seeking to diversify their institutions’ student bodies, it could draw backlash from students of white and Asian families who are already achieving higher than average scores.

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