College Board cancels plans for ‘adversity score’ amid criticism

The College Board has reconsidered its plan to allow colleges to view students’ SAT scores alongside a single quantitative measure of their “disadvantage level,” citing significant pushback, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The organization in May said it would make the measure, commonly referred to as an “adversity score,” available via a tool called the Environmental Context Dashboard, calculating the score based on crime rates, poverty levels, housing values, educational attainment, and other factors characterizing students’ high schools and communities.

The tool had been tested by admissions teams at 50 institutions, some of which said that it helped “diversify their enrollment.” Others weren’t so sure that the adversity score had any impact and said it risked oversimplifying students’ experiences.

Ultimately, the College Board decided to pull the score and rename its system, now called Landscape. The tool still will show how an applicant’s SAT or ACT score compares with those of peers at their same high school and will provide contextual information about the student’s neighborhood and school. The college board is offering more information about how Landscape works and, starting next year, will make the data available to schools, students, and families.

“We listened to thoughtful criticism and made Landscape better and more transparent,” David Coleman, the CEO of College Board, said in a statement. “Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information so they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”

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