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“Adversity score” to be reflected on some student SAT exams

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A new “adversity score” from the College Board on the SAT exam will reportedly reflect a students’ family income, environment and educational challenges to balance the competitive college admissions process. 50 schools used the indicators in a test last year, and up to 150 schools could be added to the fold this fall. 

Susan Steron with the Sylvan Learning Center in Pittsford says the adversity score was in the works for a while but rolled out today by the College Board, a non-profit in charge of overseeing the SAT’s, partially in response to the high profile college admissions scandal. 

“It was their way of kind of showing that they are looking at economic diversity,” says Steron. 

15 factors are used to “score” a student’s socio-economic standing, including poverty rate, crime rate, housing values, vacancy rate, family, curriculum rigor, and AP class opportunities. The new value will appear alongside a student’s SAT score in something called the “Environment Context Dashboard”. 

“They recognize that not every student has equal opportunity to get into the United States’ best colleges,” adds Steron. 

While the adversity score can provide a break to students facing challenges, Steron says there are also potential downsides. Those who rank lowest might push others out. 

“Those students who are at the average or above average economic situation, are now being pushed out of the funnel a bit,” she says.

Another downside? Students and parents cannot see their adversity score. So, a student will never know if they were selected for outstanding academic performance, or adversity ranking. 

High school students we spoke to say environment and economy are major factors for any academic future.

Amir English says, “It can be hard,” while Joshua Berry adds, “The things that people go through at home affect them mentally.”

Some college students we spoke with say the adversity score could help give a better illustration of an applicant when deciding to accept that person for admission. 

Shireen Bhullar, a University of Rochester Student says, “To be able to go to a good college is (already) kind of a barrier.”

Anush Mehrabyan, another UR Student adds, “(The) SAT is too overwhelming I think, especially for high schoolers.”

Steron says even with the new adversity scoring, still hit the books, and be the best possible student you can be. “Either way, hopefully, the colleges are getting a better pool of more qualified kids.”

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