SAT To Begin Considering 'Adversity Score' Of Test-Takers To Help Level The Playing Field Of College Admissions

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” said the College Board's chief executive.

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| May 16 2019,

2:35 pm

An additional score will be attached to the SAT college entrance exam to help schools diversify. 

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the College Board will assign an "adversity score" to each student taking the exam. Officials believe the score will give admission officers some insight into the social and economic backgrounds of college applicants.

Beta testing began last year. The College Board tested 50 colleges in 2018 and they plan to roll out to all universities in the coming years. This year, the New York-based nonprofit will expand to 150 institutions this fall. 

The Daily Beast notes the "adversity score" is made up of 15 factors including poverty levels and crime rates of a student's neighborhood. No student will be able to see the score; only admissions officers will be able to do so. 

An "adversity score" is quantified with a number from a scale of zero to 100. All scores will appear on the Environmental Context Dashboard breaking down the student's relative poverty, wealth and opportunity.

Fifty is considered average and anything above is considered immense hardship. Anything below indicates privilege. 

Data collected of scores from previous years indicated racial, social and economic disparities among those taking the exam. The Wall Street Journal reports white students scored 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results.

Only Asian students were able to score 100 points higher than white students taking the SAT. Other figures also show that if a student has college-educated parents, they were more likely to have higher scores. 


“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.”

James Conroy, director of college counseling at New Trier High School in North Chicago, serves affluent white incoming students. He believes the score hurt white students because diversity is a central focus for colleges.

“My emails are inundated with admissions officers who want to talk to our diversity kids,” Conroy told The Journal. “Do I feel minority students have been discriminated against? Yes, I do. But I see the reversal of it happening right now.”

In wake of the college admissions scandal, affluent white students seem to be able to circumnavigate admission rules to get into the best schools. The "adversity score" is a way to level the playing field. 

According to NPR, the news of the "adversity score" will help in increasing diversity for higher education institutions.

However, the best way to achieve diversity may be to ditch the exam altogether. Researchers found in the study Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works that schools who make the exam optional accept a higher number of low-income and first generation-students. Many of these students also come from diverse backgrounds.

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