‘Adversity Score’ on the SAT

There’s more to the SAT’s new “adversity score” than meets the eye (“The New and Unimproved SAT,” The Wall Street Journal, May 17).  Officially called the Environmental Context Dashboard, the score is based on 15 factors that total 100.  It includes an applicant’s home life, community and school.  Race is not a component.

The ostensible purpose is to provide admissions officers with a more comprehensive view of an applicant than exists at this time. But the real purpose is to help schools diversify their student bodies without explicitly looking at race, and to protect SAT clients from being sued for ignoring a future ban by the U.S. Supreme Court on using race in admissions. Because adversity scores are calculated by a third-party algorithm over which they have no control, colleges erect a formidable legal barrier against litigation.

Students who overcome huge disadvantages to do well on the SAT deserve recognition and praise.  But the SAT is fundamentally a business, which is why everything it does needs to be taken with a grain of salt.


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