SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background

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The College Board plans to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT to try to capture their social and economic background, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions.

This new number, called an adversity score by college admissions officers, is calculated using 15 factors including the crime rate and poverty levels from the student’s high school and neighborhood. Students won’t be told the scores, but colleges will see the numbers when reviewing their applications.

An adversity score of 50 is average. Anything above it designates hardship, below it privilege.

The College Board declined to say how it calculates the adversity score or weighs the factors that go into it. The data that informs the score comes from public records such as the U.S. Census as well as some sources proprietary to the College Board, Mr. Coleman said.

Each of the three categories has five sub-indicators that are indexed in calculating each student’s adversity score.

Neighborhood environment will take into account crime rate, poverty rate, housing values and vacancy rate.

Family environment will assess what the median income is of where the student’s family is from; whether the student is from a single parent household; the educational level of the parents; and whether English is a second language.

High school environment will look at factors such as curriculum rigor, free-lunch rate and AP class opportunities.

Together these factors will calculate an individual’s adversity score on a scale of one to 100.

“If I am going to make room for more of the [poor and minority] students we want to admit and I have a finite number of spaces, then someone has to suffer and that will be privileged kids on the bubble,” he said.

How in the world do you

(a) create a formula to determine how much “adversity” a 17-year-old has faced,

(b) using only school-level and neighborhood-level data, not personal data, and then

(c) hide the formula’s results from the kid?

I find this troubling on so many levels. We are moving farther and farther away from objective merit.

The SAT is basically giving students “demerit points” for coming from stable homes & safe neighborhoods.

Basically the SAT is probably gonna penalize you if you’re:


And reward you if you’re


But you’re never gonna know be they won’t tell how they calculate their “adversity score.”


h/t kpm


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