Every student taking the SAT will now be given an ‘adversity score’ to level the playing field between people with different social and economic backgrounds, but critics say children of affluent parents could be penalized by the new system.
The scoring system was established by the national College Board, the nonprofit which administers the test, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The new system will use 15 different factors to weigh a student’s adversity score, based on things such as the crime and poverty rates in the neighborhood where the teens grew up.
Other elements of the adversity index include housing values, family median income, whether a student is a child of a single parent, or speaks English as a second language.
The quality of the high school that students attend will also be factored into the final adversity score.
‘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, said. ‘We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.’
The score does not include race as a factor. Students will be rated on a scale of one to 100, with an adversity score of 50 considered average. Anything higher indicates hardship, while scores lower than 50 indicate privilege.
Mary Clare Amselem, a policy analyst with the right-leaning Heritage Foundation said the new system is ‘wildly dehumanizing.’
‘We can’t whittle down people’s background and experience into a number and assume that will give us a good idea of who they are and if they will succeed in college,’ she said.
Students will never learn their own scores, but universities will have access to them when reviewing applications.
‘I find it extremely problematic that students won’t know what number is assigned to them you have people behind the scenes working to determine what kind of a student you will be in college,’ Amselem said.
The change comes in the wake of a college admissions bribery scandal that has ensnared more than 50 people including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who were accused of paying big money to get their teen daughters into top universities.
The scandal has raised serious questions about how privilege helps many students buy their way into the nation’s best schools – or at the least allows wealthy families to pay for tutors, extra-curriculars and SAT test prep that low-income households could never afford.
The new scoring system has already been tested in 50 different colleges, with plans to extend to 150 universities this fall, followed by a broader expansion in 2020.
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