The SAT will now factor in an “adversity score” that takes note of each participant’s socioeconomic, environmental, and educational circumstances, the College Board announced on Thursday. The new score, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is intended to notify college admissions offices of class, racial, and economic challenges applicants may have experienced so they can weigh these factors into their decision-making process.
Of the nearly 2 million students who took the new SAT in 2017, 44% identified as white, according to the College Board. The number of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian students who took the test was significantly lower, with 13%, 24%, and 9% participation, respectively. The average scores were also widely divided, with white and Asian test-takers averaging higher overall scores than any other group. The new adversity score will notify colleges about disadvantages minority groups face, such as more limited access to SAT preparation courses and the types of classes and resources offered at local schools.
Additionally, The New York Times reports the test will look at other factors, such as poverty levels, local crime rates, and family environments in determining an overall score. The scores rank on a scale of 1 to 100, with the average score resting at 50. The higher the score, the higher the “disadvantage level,” according to CBS News.
While the College Board claims teens won’t see these scores when they get their results, many colleges will. According to the Wall Street Journal, 50 colleges have already had access to the adversity scores, and this year, the number of participating colleges will jump to 150.
Some have applauded the new “adversity score” for bringing more opportunities to kids who face systemic disadvantages.
Yale, using an "adversity score," has doubled the number of low-income and first-generation-in-college students to 20%.
— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) May 16, 2019
Others, such as the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., have bashed the idea, calling it a “sham,” “unfair,” and discriminatory towards white and Asian students. One commenter tweeted that we might as well “just give everyone a diploma.”
SAT preparation comes at a cost. Some parents shell out thousands of dollars on courses, while others devote hours to helping their kids prepare for the test. The disparity in resources, including finances and time, has been a widely discussed topic lately after high-profile figures — including actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — participated in a widespread college admissions scandal in which they paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their kids accepted into top-tier universities. In some cases, parents even paid to have other people take the SAT for their children.
Ultimately, the College Board tells CBS News the “adversity scoring” is meant to provide more opportunities for students with disadvantages and is not a ploy to punish other students.