The company that administers the SAT college admissions test is replacing the so-called adversity score with a tool that will no longer reduce an applicant’s background to a single number, an idea the College Board’s chief executive now says was a mistake.
Amid growing scrutiny of the role wealth plays in college admissions, the College Board introduced its Environmental Context Dashboard about two years ago to provide context for a student’s performance on the test and help schools identify those who have done more with less.
The version used by about 50 institutions in a pilot program involved a formula that combined school and neighborhood factors like advanced course offerings and the crime rate to produce a single number.
But critics called it an overreach for the College Board to score adversity the way it does academics.
David Coleman, College Board’s chief executive, said some also wrongly worried the tool would alter the SAT results.
“The idea of a single score was wrong,” he said. “It was confusing and created the misperception that the indicators are specific to an individual student.”
The New York City-based College Board announced several changes to the tool Tuesday, including the decision to give students access to the information about their schools and neighborhood starting in the 2020-2021 school year.
Renamed “Landscape,” the revised tool will provide data points from government sources and the College Board that are seen as affecting education. They include whether the student’s school is rural, suburban or urban, the size of the school’s senior class, the percentage of students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch, and participation and performance in college-level Advanced Placement courses at the school.
Admissions officers also will see a range of test scores at the school to show where the applicant’s falls, as well as information like the median family income, education levels and crime rates in the student’s neighborhood.
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