U.S. Colleges Seeking ''Unseen Talent'' - Is SAT's Adversity Score The Answer?

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The College Board, the New York-headquartered non-profit which oversees the SAT would assign an adversity score to all the test takers to reflect their social and economic backgrounds, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The final score is comprised of 15 factors, divided into three categories, including neighborhood environment, family environment, and high school environment. Each of these categories includes five sub-indicators, taking into account the crime and poverty rate, housing values, and vacancy rate. 

Family environment estimates the average income of the students' family. It will also give insights on whether the applicant comes from a single parent household and the educational background of the parents. It would also point out whether English is their second language. The high school environment will examine the curriculum, free-lunch rate, and more. 

Together, all these factors would calculate the applicant's adversity score on a scale of one to 100. According to David Poleman, chief executive officer at the College Board, a score of 50 will be considered average. Further, a number above 50 indicates hardship, while a figure below 50 - privilege.

Colleges and universities would be able to check the score, added Poleman, highlighting that students would not be informed about their adversity score.

As Wall Street Journal pointed out, some 50 colleges across the country already used the adversity score in a beta test in 2018. The College Board would reportedly expand the trial to 150 educational institutions this fall.

The new adversity score would appear in the ''Environmental Context Dashboard'', CBS added, explaining that the formal name of the score was ''Overall Disadvantage Level.'

According to David Coleman, the main goal of the adversity score is to find ''the unseen talent.'' In Coleman's view, the Environmental Context Dashboard helps admission committees identify promising prospective students that managed to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.

The impact of income inequality on the students' SAT scores has been central to the College Board for a long time now. It estimated that on average, white students achieved higher SAT results than their Afro-American and Hispanic counterparts in 2018. In addition to that, Asian students scored higher on average compared to their white fellows. 

The College Board also found out that students whose parents were college-educated and wealthy performed better on SAT than their peers. 

Yale University was among the pioneering institutions nationwide to use the adversity scores to increase socioeconomic diversity on campus. As a result, it doubled the number of low-income students and those who are the first generation in college to nearly 20 percent, Jeremiah Quinlan, the dean of undergraduate admissions, said.

What do you think? Do you support or oppose the idea of adversity scores?