What a terrible idea: The College Board is adding a new “adversity score” to go along with every SAT result.
The info will supposedly help schools consider the social and economic background of their applicants by blending 15 factors about the income levels and so on of test-takers’ homes, neighborhoods and schools. Does anyone think hardship or privilege is that easy to measure in any meaningful way?
As a further slap, kids don’t get to see their scores; only colleges’ admissions officers do. Get ready for the lawsuits, and all manner of efforts to game the system.
To justify the innovation, College Board CEO David Coleman notes that the SAT “is a valid measure of your achievement: what have you learned in reading and math, how ready you are for college.” But “it doesn’t measure what you’ve overcome — the situation that you achieved it in.”
No, it doesn’t — but neither does the new score. At best, it offers a rough approximation, in the process making all manner of assumptions about the importance of high-school quality vs. parents’ income vs. the local crime level.
We’re all for schools taking applicants’ backgrounds into account — most of them already do, and (we hope) on a more careful case-by-case basis. It’ll actually be a blow to real fairness if they all start tracking the same dubious formula, as they inevitably will once college-ranking lists start reporting on it.
SAT scores have a clear, if limited, use: They indicate how ready the test-taker is to do college-level work. The “adversity score” is simply a College Board effort to signal its own social conscience while marketing a new product.
The board would be far better off working to close the gaping holes in its system exposed in the recent college-admissions scandals: Not just the way wealthy parents paid to fake their children’s SAT scores, but the way many more fake a student “disability” to win the kid more test-taking time.
Instead of posturing about adversity, keep your central product from becoming a complete joke.
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