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New SAT ‘Adversity Score’ Will Factor Social and Economic Background for Students

Here's how it will work.


Following the massive college admissions bribery scandal that involved some of the country’s top colleges, the College Board is now trying to level the playing field. According to a Thursday report from the Wall Street Journal, students will now be given an “adversity score” when they take the SAT exam.

Each student’s score will be determined by 15 different factors related to their economic and social status which are grouped into three categories: neighborhood environment, family environment, and high school environment. For instance, the neighborhood environment includes poverty rate, crime rate, and housing value while the family environment includes the parents’ education levels, household income, and whether English is their first language. The high school environment, on the other hand, takes into account the number of AP classes available and the level of difficulty of the curriculum.

The score will be on a scale from one to 100, with 50 being average. Anything below 50 indicates more privilege while anything above 50 indicates more economic hardships.

According to CEO of College Board, David Coleman, the idea behind the new scoring system is to give students with less privilege a chance to be evaluated fairly. (Historically, students who come from wealthier backgrounds perform better on standardized exams.)

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” Coleman told the Journal, adding that, “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

College Board has already begun rolling out the new score, which is officially called the “Overall Disadvantage Level” and is found in the exam’s Environmental Context Dashboard portion. Last fall, 50 schools were selected to use it as part of beta testing and the Journal reports that this year, 150 more schools will be added to the program.