SAT 'adversity score' to help colleges gauge students' 'resourcefulness to overcome challenges'

The organization that administers the SAT exam taken by millions of high schoolers each year is rolling out a new metric, informally dubbed the "adversity score," to identify students "who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less."

Known officially as the Environmental Context Dashboard, the metric is intended to give admissions officers a snapshot of the challenges students face both in and out of the classroom that could impact their test performance. The dashboard shows a school's average SAT performance so that a student's performance can be gauged against his or her peers. It also shows how widely AP tests are administered at the student's school and shows information about a school's free and reduced lunch eligibility, among other data points.

Outside of the classroom, the dashboard examines data like an area's average family income, housing stability, college attendance and crime rates compared to national averages.

It does not take a student's race into account.

The College Board has been piloting the dashboard at dozens of colleges and universities including Yale and Trinity and plans to make it more broadly available in 2020.

"There is talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community - the children of poor rural families, kids navigating the challenges of life in the inner city, and military dependents who face the daily difficulties of low income and frequent deployments as part of their family's service to our country," College Board CEO David Coleman said in a statement. "No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context."

Testing has shown that the dashboard has had a positive impact on the admissions process by helping admissions officers make more holistic decisions, the organization said.

"Imagine that student who's grown up with less made a ton out of it, that's a great person to let into your highly resourced college, because imagine what they'll do when they have all those resources," said Coleman.
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