New SAT ‘Adversity Score’ Will Factor Social And Economic Background For Students

In light of the recent college bribery scandal that has been in the headlines over the last few months, the College Board is attempting to make changes to how the SAT's are scored by assigning an "adversity score" to students as they take the exam.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 50 different schools used the adversity score last year as part of a beta test, which is based on 15 different factors including family income, environment, and educational differences. The goal of the adversity score is to "level the playing field" when it comes to ensuring fairness in the college admissions process.

CBS News reports the 15 factors used to asses each student will be broken up into three different categories: neighborhood environment, family environment, and high school environment. Because not every student has the same opportunities the categories aim to create a fair system for all students. These categories will take into account different factors such as neighborhood crime rate and poverty rate, the median income of the student's neighborhood, whether the student is from a single parent or two-parent family, if there are language barriers in the home and if there are AP courses available at their high school. The student's adversity score will range from 1-100.

The WSJ reports that a score of 50 represents an average score while scores above 50 suggest there is an element of adversity. Scores below 50 suggest there is an element of privilege. “There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, told the Journal. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

The adversity score will appear on the SAT score form in a section of the dashboard labeled the "Environmental Context," in a segment titled the "Overall Disadvantage Level."

sat adversity score
Credit: College Board

"Through its history, the College Board has been focused on finding unseen talent. The Environmental Context Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less," Coleman told CBS News. "It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked."

College Board plans to introduce adversity scoring to an additional 150 schools this coming Fall.


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