BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)
- 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 that the College Board’s
chief executive now says was a mistake.
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
College Board’s chief executive, said in an interview with The Associated
Press that 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 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.
“Landscape,” the revised tool will provide a series of data points from
government sources and the College Board that are seen as affecting
education. They include whether the student’s school is in a rural, suburban
or urban location, 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
The tool’s creation
was an acknowledgment of persistent criticism of the use of admissions tests
in an era of growing concern with unequal access to advanced coursework and
high-priced tutors that further advantage those with the means to access
them. This year’s “Varsity Blues” scandal, which exposed cases of affluent
parents cheating the admissions system, has brought further scrutiny.
universities have for several years been acting on the concerns, with an
increasing number no longer demanding SAT or rival ACT scores from
applicants. More than 1,000 schools, including elite liberal arts colleges
as well as research universities and for-profit schools, are test-optional,
according to the nonprofit group FairTest, which argues standardized tests
are biased against minority groups.
piloted the Environmental Context Dashboard, and admissions dean Jeremiah
Quinlan said it’s a consistent way to see information that its admissions
officers have always considered when culling through an application pool of
38,000. Just over 1,500 students recently arrived for their first year, and
more than 20% of them eligible for income-based federal Pell Grants, he
said. That compares to about 16% before the dashboard and 12% six years ago.
“It helps us
identify students who have excelled in their context in a more clear and
convincing way than we ever could have in the past,” said Quinlan, dean of
undergraduate admissions and financial aid.