SAT to Add "Adversity Score," in Hopes of Narrowing the Achievement Gap

The College Board hopes to measure students' "resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less."

On May 16, the College Board—the company behind several U.S. standardized tests, including the SAT—announced that students' SAT scores will now be reported alongside a new indicator. Widely referred to as an "adversity score," the index aims to quantify a given student's structural disadvantages, by accounting for an area's rates of crime and poverty, among other factors.

The College Board is calling it an "Environmental Context Dashboard," and although it will not directly affect a test-taker's score, it will be presented to college admissions officials in order to provide context.

"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," David Coleman, the College Board's CEO, said in a statement to CNN.

SAT prep materials

The score will be measured on a scale of one to 100, with an average of 50. Fifteen factors go into its calculation, including a high school's average class size and the percentage of students who qualify for free or subsidized lunches, as well as neighborhood statistics, like median family income.

The announcement comes in the wake of this year's college admissions scandal, in which wealthy parents allegedly paid to fix their children's SAT scores. The news story underscored how standardized test scores—once hailed as a neutral measure of a student's aptitude—are subject to bias.

Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a group that often critiques standardized testing, was not convinced that the "adversity score" goes far enough. "Test-makers long claimed that their products were a ‘common yardstick’ for comparing applicants from a wide range of schools," Schaeffer said in a statement, per the Washington Post. "This latest initiative concedes that the SAT is really a measure of ‘accumulated advantage’ which should not be used without an understanding of a student’s community and family background."

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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