Despite former studies claiming that the SAT is an accurate aptitude assessment of students "across a range of socioeconomic groups," the College Board is changing its tune. In an effort to rectify past inequities in the SAT, the College Board and colleges around the country will test the addition of an "adversity score." The Wall Street Journal's Douglas Belkin reports:
This new number, called an adversity score by college admissions officers, is calculated using 15 factors including the crime rate and poverty levels from the student’s high school and neighborhood. Students won’t be told the scores, but colleges will see the numbers when reviewing their applications.
In short, the adversity score is meant to give context to a student's overall SAT score. Although the new system is still in testing stages, the concept shows the College Board is aware of bias within the SAT, but believes it can do away with such bias in the future.
“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” said David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”
However, as The Atlantic's Natalie Escobar points out, "one additional metric" cannot fix a broken system. Escobar looks to Anthony Abraham Jack, Harvard professor and author, on the topic:
“It is giving us a look at how poverty and inequality directly affect students’ college destinations, as it relates to [test scores]” Jack said. “When students sit down [to take] the SAT, that doesn’t mean that everybody’s at the same starting line.”
The disadvantage index on the SAT will certainly not fix the college admissions process at large, and whether it will equalize SAT scores remains to be seen. Although the effort is a positive one, Escobar warns:
In the end, the College Board is in the business of selling things: the SAT, the SAT subject tests, and test-prep books. The college-preparation agency Top Tier Admissions says that it is “not convinced the College Board has anything besides its own business interests in mind.”
Some have hope that the adversity score will fix a broken system of standardized tests like the SAT.
While others have reservations about the new system, saying the lack of transparency into students' scores is a red flag. Some believe the SAT is so biased, the College Board would be better off dropping the test altogether.