College Board unveils the “Adversity Score” to the concern of many students


Sean Lee, Staff Writer

In mid-May, reports began to arise that stated the SAT would begin assigning “adversity scores” to students to distinguish them from their peers. These reports were confirmed to be true as the College Board released the Environmental Context Dashboard for all college admission officers to view. The College Board and its president, David Coleman, have released official statements saying that the “adversity score’ does not affect an applicants SAT scores, instead it gives greater insights into students.

What is in the Environmental Context Dashboard?

The College Board has stated that the Dashboard will judge applicants based off of 15 factors, such as median family income in the applicant’s high school and the range of SAT scores for their school. These factors are then run through an algorithm to provide an overall disadvantage level between 1 and 100. The higher the disadvantage level, the more adversity the student has faced in terms of achieving goals and accomplishments. Along with a description of the factors that affect the overall disadvantage level, a screenshot of a sample Dashboard was shown to give an example of what college admissions officers will see.

Why is there controversy surrounding the “Adversity Score”?

Despite the fact that the Dashboard was not shown to the public until the middle of May, the College Board has allowed around 50 schools to use the Dashboard without the public knowing. Colleges such as Yale University and the University of Washington have already tested the new dashboard when admitting students for the 2018-2019 school year. The College Board’s field testing of the new Dashboard has caused many students to wonder how much their application was affected by this new score. The College Board also plans to implement the use of the dashboard in over 150 schools by the time applications are submitted for the 2019-2020 school year.

Critics of the Dashboard have stated that the adversity that a student has faced cannot be labeled as a number and that the “adversity score” can be a form of Affirmative Action. Bart Grachan, the associate dean for LaGuardia Community College, has even stated that the College Board avoids the problem of Affirmative Action by specifically excluding race when determining overall disadvantage level. Time will only tell if the new Environmental Context Dashboard will be a large factor in the admissions process, but the College Board hopes it will, seeing as the plan to implement the use of the dashboard in over 150 schools by the time applications are submitted for the 2019-2020 school year.