College Board to Include 'Adversity Score' on SAT Exams to Calculate Students' Background

For some students, the SAT exam is getting a slight change to reflect not only students’ educational accomplishments, but also the adversity they have faced outside of school.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the College Board — the New York nonprofit that oversees the SAT exam, a test that plays a crucial role in college applications — will be including an “adversity score” in the exam this fall.

Reflecting students’ family income, educational differences and social backgrounds, the score will be calculated using 15 components, including the poverty levels and crime rate of the students’ high school and neighborhood, CNN reported.

After completing a beta test that saw 50 colleges participate last year, the Board will now roll out the program to a total of 150 schools this fall. While colleges will be able to see the score and take it into account when reviewing applications, students won’t be able to review it.

The addition to the exam comes amid the highly publicized college cheating scandal, which has seen high-profile parents accused of fraud after trying to get their children into prominent schools through various means, including expensive bribes and cheating on the SAT.

According to the Journal, the Board has long been concerned about income inequality affecting the SAT results of black and Hispanic students, who often score lower than their white and Asian counterparts. Students whose parents are wealthy and college-educated frequently scored better than teenagers whose parents are not.

The adversity score may help give many deserving students a chance to attend the college of their dreams, despite not getting a high score on the SAT.

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less (on the SAT) but have accomplished more,” College Board chief executive David Coleman told the Journal, according to CNN. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

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