Friday, May 17, 2019

The SAT "adversity score" and unintended consequences

News of affluent parents scamming to get their kids into top universities has again stoked complaints that college admissions are rigged. To level the socioeconomic field, the College Board now plans to assign students an “adversity score” on their SAT admissions tests. This demographic handicap may instead fuel more public cynicism and harm middle-income kids.

The College Board’s new adversity score will include 15 variables such as a student’s neighborhood crime rate, housing values and poverty. These variables will feed into an algorithm with weights assigned to each variable. Out will pop a score that students won’t be able to see or challenge before it goes to colleges.

That's from this Wall Street Journal editorial, which foresees some disturbing unintended consequences:
Middle-class kids whose parents sacrifice to send them to private schools or move to neighborhoods with better public schools would score as relatively privileged. Regardless of their own resources and opportunities, they might be compared to more affluent peers who have access to SAT prep, tutors and summer camps. The score could thus prompt families to make perverse decisions. For instance, parents may refrain from moving to marginally wealthier neighborhoods or sending their kids to parochial schools.


Art in LA said...

Hmm, a lottery system probably works best, right? If you meet a test score and class grades threshold, your name is included in a pool of applicants. Then it's a random draw from there. I'm not sure how I would add any weighting for adversities you grew up with. Maybe put your hat into the ring again once you have proven yourself at a junior college first ... SAT is totally taken out of the mix.