SAT exams add ‘adversity score’ to factor in socio-economic backgrounds
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Colleges are starting to look beyond your test score when you apply for admission.
Students applying to schools like the University of North Carolina Charlotte know about the stress of taking the SATs, but now the company that came up with the test is adding a new measure beyond the verbal and math scores.
Officials said it’s called the “Environmental Context Dashboard,” while others call it the “adversity score.”
The College Board said the adversity score will use 15 factors, including the poverty levels and crime rates from the student’s high school and neighborhood. Those numbers will not be revealed, but colleges will be able to see them when reviewing applications.
Students will be scored on a scale of one to 100. A number above 50 would indicate more hardship. Race is not a factor in the calculations, according to the College Board.
Fifty colleges and universities have already tried the new measure.
The College Board said it is their hope to expand it to 150 schools this year and then, make it more widely available next year.
“What the College Board is doing is giving admissions officers context to look at SAT scores and see those students who may not have scored as high on the SAT, but given their context have accomplished amazing things,” College Board CEO David Coleman said.
Colleges will be able to see the score when considering applicants, but the students themselves will not know their scores.
“It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked,” Coleman said. “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. No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context.”
The score is based on data from the Census Bureau, crime data from the FBI, and other sources.
Schools said they have already been inundated with questions from parents.
Some educators, however, are viewing the adversity score with skepticism, especially when using ZIP codes to identify adversity.
James Conroy, director of college counseling at New Trier High School in suburban Chicago, told the WSJ that focusing on diversity is already high.
“My emails are inundated with admissions officers who want to talk to our diversity kids,” Conroy told the newspaper. “Do I feel minority students have been discriminated against? Yes, I do. But I see the reversal of it happening right now.”