College Board Drops Plans for SAT Student Adversity Scores

Douglas Belkin:

The backlash emerged after an article in The Wall Street Journal in May detailed the College Board’s plans for the adversity score.

The College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried for years about race income inequality influencing test results.

White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

An analysis by Georgetown University researchers earlier this year found that if the most selective U.S. colleges and universities relied solely on SAT scores for admissions decisions, their campuses would be wealthier, whiter and more male, raising questions about the role of standardized testing in admissions.

Landscape is designed to help colleges compare an applicant’s test scores to those of other students in their high school and beyond, the College Board said. It also aims to give a picture of the quality of the school and relative wealth and stability of the neighborhood.

Six “challenge factors” provide the “summary neighborhood challenge indicator” and the “summary high-school challenge indicator,” according to the College Board. Those factors are college attendance, household structure, median family income, housing stability, education levels and crime. Admissions officers who tested Landscape estimate they lack high-school information for about 25% of all applications, the College Board said.

Fifty colleges used the adversity score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board had planned to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year.