Home > Uncategorized > SAT Adds “Adversity Score” to Mitigate Demographic Reality, Sidestep College Decisions to Abandon Tests as Metric

SAT Adds “Adversity Score” to Mitigate Demographic Reality, Sidestep College Decisions to Abandon Tests as Metric

May 24, 2019

The College Board announced last week that it was introducing an “Adversity Score” in an effort to mitigate the demographic reality that children raised in poverty and minorities generally score lower on their tests than their affluent and white counterparts and to sidestep the reality that more and more colleges are abandoning the use of the test in their acceptance decisions. The bottom line in both cases is that the survival of ETS depends on its acceptance as a proxy for “merit”, and that case is increasingly difficult to make given the fact that there is no correlation between SAT scores and college success and sufficient evidence that individuals with relatively middling-to-low SAT scores fare well in post-secondary education.

Of late there has been wide coverage given to millionaires who spend thousands to help their children prepare for these tests and, in rare instances, pay to have someone take the tests in place of their children. This is happening because so-called “elite colleges” require high SAT scores for admission and entry into those colleges is viewed as an essential first step toward success. But increasingly the “elite colleges” are finding applicant pools full of high scoring students whose SATs cannot be used in any statistical sense to identify the most worthy candidates— especially when the “elite” schools want to offer a wide array of arts, music, and athletic programs that require students whose SAT scores might not otherwise qualify them for entry. Given the mass of students whose SAT scores exceed 1500, the “elite” schools are relying less on the scores and more on other factors. The SAT decision to offer an “adversity Index”, then, would not make a difference in most cases of admission to an “elite” school except to offer a fig-leaf’s protection when a college accepts a low scoring athlete or musician.

From my perspective, the sooner we abandon the SAT as a proxy for “merit” the better. It might be possible that if “elite” colleges abandoned the SAT altogether that US News and World Report would no longer focus on it and MAYBE the whole notion that a single test is the proxy for success would disappear. If that is the case, schools might be able to go about the business of educating students based on something more holistic than a pencil-and-paper test.


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