SAT to begin scoring 'adversity' of students

The College Board reportedly plans to assign an “adversity score” to each student who takes the SAT, providing information on student's social and economic background.

The data point, which would be calculated using more than a dozen factors, comes as college admissions boards face scrutiny for their selection processes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Among the categories included in the calculation are the crime rate in a student’s neighborhood, their family’s median income and the rigor of their school’s curriculum, according to the Journal.

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Students’ scores can range from 1 to 100, with 50 being average, above 50 representing an element of adversity and anything below 50 representing a degree of privilege, the newspaper reported.

The students themselves won’t know what scores they get, but colleges will see the information. 

“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 Journal. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

The move comes amid fierce debate around the role of race in college admissions, as well as the inequalities within the education system that can oftentimes be attributed to socioeconomic factors.

Some groups are welcoming the new system as a means of expanding the playing field, while others argue that it promotes reverse discrimination, the Journal noted.

The change comes after higher education institutions such as Yale University have already tried — and, in some cases, succeeded — in using adversity scores to increase campus diversity.

Still, other institutions, including Harvard University, are named in ongoing lawsuits alleging unfair admissions practices, and a far-reaching college admissions scandal has revealed the role cheating can play in SAT scores and acceptances to schools.