The SAT has been an instrumental factor for university administrators to decide which students get the edge over others for admissions for years. And for years, the SAT and other standardized tests have been criticized for bias against students in poverty.
In response to this and the college admissions bribery scandal coming to light, the College Board, which administers the SAT, have added the “adversity score” to the test.
The adversity score is a number from 1 to 100. The average score is 50 and the higher the number a student is given, the more “adverse” the student’s situation.
The adversity score will be scored based on 15 factors, including crime and poverty rate in the student’s neighborhood, median income in their household, single parent household, if English is a second language in their household and the quality of the high school they attend.
At face value, the adversity score appears to be an admirable tool to measure what students have to go through. But, the score has a lot of unanswered aspects that need to be corrected if the adversity score is going to be beneficial to disadvantaged students.
The SAT will likely remain a pivotal part in the college admission process, as will the newly implemented adversity score. But if it is to be truly successful, the College Board will need to thoroughly and coherently explain the 15 factors which determine the score. They have identified a handful of criteria which the College Board will be looking for to hand out an adversity score. But aside from vague phrasing, there is no deeper measurement.
Also, students and parents will not have access to this score, only college officials, which raises a red flag. It does seem cruel to take millions of “adverse” students looking to better their lives and get away from undesirable situations, turn them into a number and not even inform them of what that number is.
On top the factors which aren’t clear and the fact that the score isn’t disclosed to those being scored, it is also a possibility that universities will mishandle this information.
Time will only tell if universities will use this implementation ethically to actually benefit students from more “adverse” backgrounds and give these students more opportunities. But with the recent admissions scandal with college officials taking bribes, it is understandable to be concerned.
The adversity score will likely be around for a while, but transparency and revisions will undoubtedly be necessary if it’s actually going to be beneficial or just pretend to fix long-standing problems with the SAT.