Education

College Board Introduces "Adversity Score" on SAT's

The score is meant to benefit low-income students, but has been met by critics on all sides.


Students taking the SAT will now receive an "adversity score" in addition to the traditional scores on the math, verbal and writing sections.

According to the New York Times, a student's score will range from 1 to 100. An average score is 50, the higher the number means the more disadvantage. Factors will include the relative quality of the student's high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student's neighborhood. The rating will not impact a student's score on the exam.

The College Board, who administers the SAT, says the goal is to give colleges a more comprehensive look at the applicant. The score addresses concerns that students from low-income areas or struggling high schools might not be able to compete with higher scores that tend to correlate with wealthier areas.

"Merit is all about resourcefulness," David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, told the New York Times. "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, it is amazing."

The College Board's announcement comes in the wake of the college admissions scandal, where celebrities and other wealthy parents have been accused of "buying" their children's way into elite universities and cheating on standardized tests.

Critics of the change include those who say it will punish students who do not come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those who say will not fully contextualize an individual student's situation. For example, Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest, said the score wouldn't help a student who is of middle-class background, but whose mother is addicted to opioids.

Michael T. Nietzel, president emeritus of Missouri State University, says that if universities are truly concerned about bias or cheating on standardized exams, there is a simple solution. Simply don't require students to submit exam scores, or minimize their importance in the admissions process.

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