SAT to Add “Adversity Score” That Rates Students Hardships

By Manu Nandela

The SAT is a college placement test that plays an important part in whether or not students are accepted to particular colleges. Now the College Board is looking to integrate an “Adversity Score” to the SAT in a bid to level the playing field for students of different means. The “Adversity Score” provides information to college admission offices about students’ educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, entering the fraught battle over the fairness of high-stakes testing.


On Thursday, David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board stated that the company announced that they would incorporate the new rating.


The new “Adversity Score” is being calculated by evaluating 15 factors that can help evaluate the student’s social and economic background. Some of these factors include the respective quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and the poverty level of the student’s neighborhood.


The “Adversity Score” will not affect students’ test scores, and will only be reported to college admissions officials.


The developing quantification brings the College Board squarely into the raging national debate over fairness and merit in college admissions, one fueled by enduring court clashes on affirmative action, a federal investigation into an admissions cheating ring, and a booming college preparatory industry that promises results to those who can pay.


Colleges have long endeavored to bring diversity of all sorts to their student bodies, and they have raised concerns over whether the SAT, once seen as a test of merit, can be gamed by families who hire costly consultants and tutors. Higher scores have been found to correlate with students from wealthier families and those with well-educated parents.


David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board stated that, “Merit is all about resourcefulness.” Later he states, “This is about finding young people who do a great deal with what they’ve been given. It helps colleges see students who may not have scored as high, but when you look at the environment that they have emerged from, [they are] amazing.”


The adversity score is expected to be one such gauge. It is a part of an immense rating system called the Environmental Context Dashboard that the College Board will provide, along with test results, to colleges or universities.


There have been many mixed opinions about this new rating because some people already feel like there is a bias to students with a lower social and economic background. People worry that this new score might create a new cast of winners and losers in the admissions process.


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