College Board Drops Student ‘Adversity Score’ on SAT

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The College Board announced it would be dropping its controversial “adversity score” on the SAT college entrance exam that informed schools of the socio-economic background of students taking the test.

Instead of providing a single score that was expected to convey information such as crime rate of students’ neighborhoods or poverty levels of their high schools, the College Board will use a new tool called “Landscape,” the company announced Tuesday.

“We listened to thoughtful criticism and made Landscape better and more transparent,” said David Coleman, CEO of the College Board. “Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information so they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”

Prior to taking on his post at the College Board, Coleman served as the “architect” of the Common Core State Standards.

The Adversity Score was offered in the midst of the college admissions cheating scandal that has seen prominent parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, involved in a scheme to pay thousands of dollars for their children to gain entrance to elite schools.

The College Board introduced the Adversity Score, which showed up as “Overall Disadvantage Level” on its “Environmental Context Dashboard,” two years ago in an attempt to level the playing field for students taking the SAT who come from predominantly minority, low-income areas. The score was calculated using 15 factors, including crime rate and poverty level – but not race, though schools could obtain a student’s race through other means.

Adversity scores were also kept hidden from students, something the College Board says its new Landscape tool will change:

College Board is also sharing new details on how Landscape works, including a comprehensive description of the data, methodology, and appropriate usage guidelines that participating colleges must follow. Beginning next year, schools, students, and families will be able to see the same information about high schools and neighborhoods that colleges see.

Information provided in Landscape includes name and locale of the student’s high school, senior class size, percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, and the average SAT scores at colleges attended from applicants’ high schools.

In its press release announcing Landscape, the College Board includes a statement by Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, vice provost at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“UCLA and other UC campuses have considered applicants’ context for many years,” Copeland-Morgan said. “We are excited about the research and additional information Landscape will provide us as we continue our efforts to better understand the full range of academic and personal achievements of all students applying for admission.”

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