Dem lawmaker says 'adversity score' shows debate over 'usefulness' of SAT is 'not over'

Virginia Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottA minimum wage is exactly what our economy needs This week: House Democrats voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt CBO report should spike minimum wage legislation MORE (D) says reports that an “adversity score” will be included as part of the SAT shows that debate over the necessity of the exam is just beginning.

“I’m not sure it’s the perfect way to do it but it does recognize that the raw SAT score is not a good predictor of how you’re going to do in college or a fair way to screen students in who gets a good opportunity and who doesn’t,” Scott, who is a chairman on the Education and the Workforce Committee, told Hill.TV on Friday.

“This adjustment just begins the debate on the usefulness of the SAT score and how you allocate the opportunities going forward,” he added.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the College Board, the company that administers the SAT, is planning to assign an adversity score in order to capture the social and economic background of students.

The data point reportedly would be calculated using more than a dozen factors, including crime rate and poverty levels from a student’s neighborhood. Students’ scores can range anywhere from 1 to 100, with anything below 50 representing a degree of privilege and anything above representing an element of adversity.

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

The potential move comes as colleges face renewed scrutiny over admissions decisions in higher education. 

Several elite schools, including Harvard, have been named in lawsuits alleging unfair admissions practices.

The college admissions scandal in which wealthy parents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out ways to get their children into elite schools is also casting a spotlight on the testing system.

In April, actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli pled not guilty to a slew of charges related to the scandal. The couple allegedly paid $500,000 for their two daughters to be admitted into the University of Southern California as members of the crew team, even though neither participated in the sport. 

—Tess Bonn