'Adversity Score' Added to SAT's

Score will measure socioeconomic background of students

May 17, 2019 - 3:02 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - The SAT's have long been a controversial way of measuring a student's aptitude, and The College Board, the company that administers the test, will now measure students based on a new metric: an adversity score.

The score, announced Thursday, will look at the socioeconomic background of students and rate them on a 1-100 scale based on 15 different factors, with 100 being the most disadvantaged. Factors such as crime rate in the neighborhood and the quality of their high school will all be taken into account.

Of course, has been met with clashing opinions from the public, but mostly negative:

Regardless of some of those in the public who believe college selection should be based mostly on merit, Nathan Daun-Barnett, who serves as the chair for the Department of Educational Leadership at the University at Buffalo, believes this addition is a modest step in the right direction.

"I don't like to call it a score; I think it's a piece of information that helps us understand student scores," he began. "They're not going to change their actual score, but what it does is that it provides an admissions office with some information about the context within which that student operates."

While he doesn't believe this is a perfect system by any stretch, he does believe there's an aspect to the higher learning selection process that needs to be more thoroughly explored.

"As a student, we know that they're influenced by their school opportunities; we know that their neighborhoods matter, and we know that their families matter," said Daun-Barnett. "The adversity score, that they call it, let's us know whether or not that student has a significant number of risk factors associated with where they live, where they grow up and where they go to school."

And from that information, he says admissions offices can gather information that wouldn't otherwise be known.

"How did that student do in relation to that adversity index, and how did they do relative to other students in that school? What would expect an SAT score to look like there, and how did that student  do, and why did they do that well or that poorly in relation to their peers? - rather than thinking about how we compare them nationally," he said. "We've long recognized that it's been a poor comparison across school context because opportunities are so different, but if we see that a student really excels within an environment where challenges are great, it probably says something about their resourcefulness, or their resilience, or their ability to overcome obstacles in ways that others might not have."

Listen to the full conversation with Daun-Barnett below:

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