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College Board to add the economic and social background of students to SAT exams

This 'adversity score' was beta-tested in 50 colleges last year

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The College Board, the company that develops and administers the SAT, is going to start including socioeconomic status along with the student's SAT scores.

Here's what we know

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, this "adversity score" will be calculated from 15 individual factors, including the poverty level and crime rate in the neighborhood where the student went to school, as well as the scores of the student's classmates.

It does not specifically ask for the student's race, although the end goal is to help more minority students get into college. The students themselves will never be shown this score, but it would be sent to schools along with their test scores.

The College Board hopes that these scores will close the gap in college between low- and high-income students when it comes to college admissions. White students, College Board pointed out, score higher on average than black and Hispanic students, while Asian students scored higher than white students. The College Board blamed this disparity on income inequality between these racial groups.

"There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less but have accomplished more," College Board President David Coleman told the Wall Street Journal. "We can't sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT."

However, critics of the plan worry that it will have the opposite effect.

What else?

The score has already been beta-tested at 50 colleges in 2018, including Yale University. Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, Jeremiah Quinlan, praised the move.

"This is literally affecting every application we look at," he said, referring to the adversity score. "It has been a part of the success story to help diversify our freshman class."

While the College Board has said that the data used to calculate adversity scores comes from publicly available records including U.S. Census data, it is keeping the exact system for calculating this score a secret.

One last thing…
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