Adversity Score Aversion

The College Board’s adversity score adventure with the SAT is unnecessary.

Alma Harrison, Editor in Chief

Standardized tests, like the SAT, are used widely across the country in college admissions. They’re an easy baseline to analyze a student’s knowledge of common core academics. 

However, in May the College Board announced their new “Environmental Context Dashboard,” which is an adversity score that aims to recognize “the children of poor rural families, kids navigating the challenges of life in the inner city, and military dependents who face the daily difficulties of low income and frequent deployments as part of their family’s service to our country,” as stated by David Coleman, the CEO of College Board. 

Not long after the launch, the College Board retracted it after negative responses from parents and educators. Instead, they’re replacing it with a new tool called “Landscape,” which “provides consistent information about a student’s neighborhood and high school, helping colleges consider context in the application review process,” as stated by College Board.

It is plain and simple – the College Board has no business to be providing this information, and there is no need for it either. Landscape provides what college applications already ask for: high school name, senior class size, etc.

Landscape provides more than that though. It shows things like the “percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch” and the median family income of the high school’s neighborhood. College applications don’t ask for that.

It seems as if Landscape is just the Environmental Context Dashboard no official score and a different name. It has the same goal of providing colleges with socioeconomic information to put alongside students’ SAT score. 

If college admissions really wanted to know about a student’s neighborhood, like the “predicted probability of being a victim of a crime in the neighborhood” or “information about vacancy rates,” they would look it up or ask for it on their application. Since they typically don’t ask, they probably don’t want the information to begin with. Why is the College Board making a deal to provide it then?

The College Board has an agenda they’re trying to push here, though it is uncertain what exactly that is. What is certain is that they’re really pushing adversity here.

“The College Board scores achievement, not adversity,” Coleman said.

Sure, but what they’re providing is not student achievements. It’s socioeconomic data that is not relevant to the college application process, but for whatever reason, they’re trying to make it relevant.