SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’

Posted by: Bostonian

SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 05:11 AM

SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background: New score comes as college admissions decisions are under scrutiny
By Douglas Belkin
Wall Street Journal
May 16, 2019 5:30 a.m. ET

The College Board plans to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT to try to capture their social and economic background, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions.

This new number, called an adversity score by college admissions officers, is calculated using 15 factors including the crime rate and poverty levels from the student’s high school and neighborhood. Students won’t be told the scores, but colleges will see the numbers when reviewing their applications.

Fifty colleges used the score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board plans to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year.

How colleges consider a student’s race and class in making admissions decisions is hotly contested. Many colleges, including Harvard University, say a diverse student body is part of the educational mission of a school. A lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard is awaiting a judge’s ruling. Lawsuits charging unfair admission practices have also been filed against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California system.

The College Board, the New York based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried about income inequality influencing test results for years. White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” said David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

The SAT, which includes math and verbal sections and is still taken with No. 2 pencils, is facing challenges. Federal prosecutors revealed this spring that students cheated on both the SAT and ACT for years as part of a far-reaching college admissions cheating scheme. In Asia and the Middle East, both the ACT and SAT exams have experienced security breaches.

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Students should be allowed to see the "adversity scores" that affect where they will be admitted.

Groups with higher average SAT scores also score higher on IQ tests, but it is politically correct to attribute such disparities to "privilege".
Posted by: mecreature

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 08:35 AM

Students should be allowed to see the "adversity scores" that affect where they will be admitted. They should also be able to challenge the score. There are so many variables that can make this score appear as something it is not.

Wouldn't most of this information and much more be available in your FAFSA paperwork?
Posted by: Thomas Percy

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 09:17 AM

This seems to be such a stunningly bad idea. Colleges have all the information on an applicant, what does the college board knows about the student colleges don't. It also really penalizes those families who lives in the smallest house/apartment on limited income just so that their children have access to a better school. Why is this even a thing?
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 10:35 AM

I have emailed the College Board at sat@info.collegeboard.org (email address obtained from this site) asking how my son's "adversity score" can be obtained and expressing my belief that we have the right to know what the adversity score is, if it is being sent to colleges to evaluate him. I suggest that every affected student or parent do this so that the College Board understands how much people want transparency.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 12:54 PM

Here is the NYT article on it:

SAT to Add ‘Adversity Score’ That Rates Students’ Hardships
By Anemona Hartocollis
May 16, 2019

The SAT, the college entrance test taken by about two million students a year, is adding an “adversity score” to the test results that is intended to help admissions officers account for factors like educational or socioeconomic disadvantage that may depress students’ scores, the College Board, the company that administers the test, said Thursday.

Colleges have long been concerned with scoring patterns on the SAT that seem unfavorable to certain socioeconomic groups: Higher scores have been found to correlate with students coming from a higher-income families and having better-educated parents.

David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, has described a trial version of the tool, which has been field-tested by 50 colleges, in recent interviews. The plan to roll it out officially, to 150 schools this year and more broadly in 2020, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The adversity score would be a number between 1 and 100, with an average student receiving a 50. It would be calculated using 15 factors, like the relative quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student’s home neighborhood. The score would not be reported to the student, only to college officials.

Admissions officers have struggled for years to find ways of gauging the hardships that students have had to overcome, and to predict which students will do well in college despite lower test scores.

“We’ve got to admit the truth, that wealth inequality has progressed to such a degree that it isn’t fair to look at test scores alone,” Mr. Coleman recently told The Associated Press. “You must look at them in context of the adversity students face.”

...
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 03:52 PM

The article says "The new score—which falls on a scale of one through 100—will pop up on something called the Environmental Context Dashboard, which shows several indicators of relative poverty, wealth and opportunity as well as a student’s SAT score compared with those of their classmates."

A College Board publication Data-Driven Models to Understand Environmental Context from 2016 describes the model:

"This Environmental Context Framework identifies three overlapping sources of environmental influence related to an applicant’s access to the educational resources and support needed to maximize potential. The framework spans three areas of the applicant’s environment:

§ Neighborhood Environment — Measures related to the socioeconomic milieu of the applicant as they move between school and home, such as the housing market structure and stability; poverty measures; peer culture; and crime risk.

§ High School Environment — Measures related to the socioeconomic status of peers at the applicant’s high school, such as the percentage of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch; relative academic performance; access to and participation in advanced course work; and relative success in gaining access to college.

§ Family Environment — Measures related to family influences, such as family income; familial structure and stability; educational attainment; and cultural context."

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The motivation for the model is described in a blog post

More than Numbers, Context Matters: A Peek at College Board’s Environmental Context Dashboard Pilot
Camille Boxhill, Associate Director, Professional Communications, The College Board
10/23/2018

There is a 45-page College Board presentation Environmental Context Dashboard: A Scalable, Systematic Approach to Educational Disadvantage.

On page 42 there is a graph showing that a model that predicts college GPAs based on test scores (presumable SAT/ACT), AP exam scores, and high school GPA underpredicts the college GPAs of the students with the least adversity by about 0.10 and overpredicts the GPA of the students with the most adversity by about 0.10. This demonstrates that standardized test scores and high school grades are not biased against the underprivileged.
Posted by: ashley

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/16/19 10:31 PM

in the case of public schools: aren't there reports on socio-economic profiles of the student population of each public school already available? And I assume that the colleges have access to that set of data.
How will this score work during the admissions process for those colleges that allow self-reporting of SAT scores?
Everyone has a right to know what information is being compiled and sent to colleges about them since it affects the rest of their lives. The College board is too powerful for a private company. This new tool seems like another income generator for the company. I think that we will be seeing a lot of lawsuits regarding the "adversity score" sooner rather than later.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/17/19 07:39 AM

Originally Posted By: spaghetti
So, how will SAT gather this info? Can't be from the voluntary reporting-- how can that be valid? Do you get a score for no answer? Do they want parent tax returns? Or is it just going to be the neighborhood/zip code you live in?

You could read the presentation I cited in post# 245521. The adversity score does not depend on the circumstances of the student but on the characteristics of his or her school and neighborhood. The College Board knows a student's address and school attended. I think that in my town, which has a single public high school, that all students from that high school (who could not attend that school unless they lived in town) would have the same adversity score.
Posted by: Kai

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/17/19 09:06 AM

What do they do about homeschoolers?

This seems like just another idea to do something about the achievement gap without actually doing something about it.
Posted by: ashley

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/17/19 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Kai
What do they do about homeschoolers?

And also the thousands of international applicants, charter schools, tens of thousands of private schools, CC/DE etc.
I am confused as to how they think that they can accurately predict "adversity" ...
Posted by: madeinuk

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/17/19 03:05 PM

While I personally think that only academic merit is the fairest system I can see how this may make admissions fairer.

It will not allow kids in preferred demographic groups with executive parents who are currently enjoying all the advantages of an upper-middle/upper class upbringing from claiming ‘hardship’ due to their demographics.

It may also allow rust belt/rural poor white kids a better chance than they currently have. Or kids of uneducated immigrant parents both working multiple minimum wage jobs to try to get better lives for their offspring (especially if East Asian) to have better chances of admission.

In short it might allow kids whose circumstances have genuinely held them back to have a better chance.

Of course - it probably will not.
Posted by: Wren

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/17/19 04:16 PM

doesn't this open the door for cheating? Wealthy people renting apts in really bad neighborhoods? Or is it all about the school they are attending? Because I am not sure how that works. In Manhattan, you can have a horrible high school in a really nice zip. You still have some projects in that zip and kids in the projects that don't have involved parents who just go through the system could end up at that horrible high school, end up with a decent SAT but not the adversity index. Seems bizarre to me how it actually works. I think it works for some but all kids that should benefit.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/18/19 04:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Wren
doesn't this open the door for cheating? Wealthy people renting apts in really bad neighborhoods? Or is it all about the school they are attending?

According to the College Board presentation Environmental Context Dashboard: A Scalable, Systematic Approach to Educational Disadvantage (p11), the components of the adversity score are as follows:

(1) Put a student’s achievement on the SAT and AP in the context of
their high school:
Scores in Context

SAT Scores
• Range scores for graduates at the high school
• Averages for students enrolling in college
• Share of students taking the SAT

AP Opportunity
• AP course availability
• AP participation
• Average number of AP exams taken at the high
school
• Average AP score

(2) Measures of the environment a student has faced given where they live and learn
Neighborhood and High School Adversity Measures
• College going behavior
• Crime risk (neighborhood only)
• Family stability
• Educational attainment
• Housing stability
• Median family income

The data sources (p12) are

National Data

American Community Survey
• Median Income
• Single Parent
• Education Level, ESL
• Housing statistics

FBI Crime Statistics

College Board Data
• College going behavior
• SAT achievement
• % Free and Reduce Lunch
• AP Opportunity
• Educational Neighborhoods

Given this data, they then

2. Combine appropriate measures to generate:
• Neighborhood adversity values at the Census Tract Level
• High School adversity values for each high school

Then they

3. Calculate Overall Adversity for each student
A student is tagged with the adversity measures for their high school and neighborhood, which are averaged to create a nationally normed measure between 0 and 100.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/18/19 05:05 AM

Thanks, Bostonian. This is the most detail I have read about what is actually being used to determine the score.

Personally, I think the data points about the high school are really important. We are very aware that our school environment was a huge advantage. There are lots of offerings, they are essentially available to any student, and very well-taught. Kids do well on testing here, and not just the exceptional kids. The peer group, while not always a perfect fit for our kids, was an advantage as well. We know this, and frankly it is hard to read stories of kids who just don’t have the courses available, or who can’t take them because of some capricious policy or other obstacle. They have a disadvantage at the point of admission, but also when they actually matriculate. This is why we put up with a school that had so many frustrations, honestly.

I guess I am surprised that this information is not already known to colleges- I know counselors have to submit a school profile, but maybe this metric is not as good as it sounds? We have been in college info sessions where the presenter asked the room how many people had read their high school’s profile, and we were in a striking minority- many people seemed not to know the term. Which makes me think maybe the schools or counselors aren’t really taking it very seriously, It should be available data, but maybe it’s not being done well. Or maybe people just don’t want to be made aware of their relative privilege.
Posted by: Wren

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/18/19 09:35 AM

After reading college confidential acceptances at Harvard, it seems that they seem to be very aware of these factors. There are kids who were first time college in the family, african american, without any big hooks getting in with scores on SAT in the 1450 range. So they must have some ideas on this or perhaps they were one of the early test schools to get these. Hence, why it would be difficult in the current law suit to go just on merit/scores.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/19/19 06:11 AM

The College Board now has two pages about the Adversity Score, one of them cited in a New York Times article Your Questions about the New Adversity Score on the SAT, Answered.

...

Among the scholars who consulted for the College Board was Richard D. Kahlenberg, a fellow at the Century Foundation and a proponent of class-based affirmative action. He said he would like to see the College Board tool evolve to also include information on a student’s individual family.

Environmental Context Dashboard
The Environmental Context Dashboard is a new admissions tool that allows colleges to incorporate context into their admissions process in a data-driven, consistent way. The Dashboard includes:

SAT Scores in context: Students' SAT scores can be seen within the context of the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile of SAT scores from their high school.
Contextual data on the student’s neighborhood and high school: Including typical family income, family structure, educational attainment, housing stability, and crime.
Information on the high school: Including AP opportunity at the school (average number of AP Exams taken, average AP score from that HS); percentage of students who meet federal eligibility criteria for free and reduced-price lunch; rurality/urbanicity; and senior class size.

...

More detail is at Detailed Data Description
We want to make sure students, families, educators, and admissions officers have information about what data is included in the Environmental Context Dashboard and where the data comes from. The robust data included in the Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.

The Dashboard has three components:

SAT scores in context: Student’s SAT scores can be seen within the context of the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile of SAT scores from the student’s high school (3-year average). The SAT score is the only piece of student-specific information admissions officers see in the Dashboard.
Information on the high school: Including senior class size; percentage of students who meet federal eligibility criteria for free and reduced-price lunch; rurality/urbanicity; and average first-year SAT score of colleges students from that high school attend, the percentage of seniors taking an AP Exam, average number of AP Exams taken, average AP score from that high school, and the number of unique AP Exams administered at that high school (3-year average).
Contextual data on the neighborhood and high school environment: The context data includes two measures—neighborhood and high school environment—calculated using data drawn from a combination of publicly available sources (e.g., NCES and U.S. Census Bureau), and aggregated College Board data.

All data is aggregate and based on census tracts. Here’s what’s included:

Neighborhood measure comprised of income, family structure, housing, educational attainment, and likelihood of being a victim of a crime High school measure comprised of income, family structure, housing, and educational attainment
Median family income
Percentage of all households in poverty (poverty rate)
Percentage of families with children in poverty
Percentage of households with food stamps
Percentage of families that are single-parent families with children and in poverty
Percentage of families that are single-parent families with children
Percentage of housing units that are rental
Percentage of housing units that are vacant
Rent as a percentage of income
Percentage of adults with less than a 4-year college degree
Percentage of adults with less than a high school diploma
Percentage of adults with agriculture jobs
Percentage of adults with nonprofessional jobs
Percentage unemployed
College-going behavior
Probability of being a victim of a crime
Median family income
Percentage of all households in poverty (poverty rate)
Percentage of families with children in poverty
Percentage of households with food stamps
Percentage of families that are single-parent families with children and in poverty
Percentage of families that are single-parent families with children
Percentage of housing units that are rental
Percentage of housing units that are vacant
Rent as a percentage of income
Percentage of adults with less than a 4-year college degree
Percentage of adults with less than a high school diploma
Percentage of adults with agriculture jobs
Percentage of adults with nonprofessional jobs
Percentage unemployed
College-going behavior
The family, educational, and housing measures are based on a factor analysis of data from the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. Neighborhood data is based on census tracts. High school data is based on all census tracts represented in a given high school.

All students living in the same census tract will have the same neighborhood data and all students attending the same high school will have the same high school data.
The neighborhood and high school measures are percentiles between 1 and 100 with a flat distribution, with 1 corresponding to the least disadvantaged and 100 to the most disadvantaged.
The neighborhood and high school measures are available as percentiles normed at both the national and state levels.
Posted by: Wren

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/19/19 06:25 AM

from CNN:
This metric translates students into a set of crunched numbers that make anyone attending the same school and living in the same neighborhood look similar; the only adverse factors incorporated by the College Board that are tethered to an applicant's unique individual circumstances are those related to family situation, such as coming from a single-parent household, whether or not English is a second language and parental educational background. It's worth noting that even this information doesn't show up on sample dashboards the Board has released; the scoring methodology behind it is unclear, and underlying information is presumably provided on a voluntary basis, and is thus gameable.
Also absent from the College Board's calculations of adversity are the ones that are at the seething center of the affirmative action wars: Race and ethnicity.
In all the quotes from proponents of the new score, race and ethnicity are pointedly avoided, replaced with mentions of socioeconomic status, geography, military family status and generalized "hardship." In short, with this score, the anti-affirmative action forces have won a major battle to replace the goal of boosting diversity with that of reducing adversity.

Does my kid, who lost a parent at age 7, get an adversity score? I understand it is a combination of factors but does everyone participate so that you get some? There are projects on the other side of the road of all the expensive apts and condos in Riverside south in NYC. So you would come from the same zip. And if you are filling out the info, are there checks if you say your family income is less than 50K per annum?
Posted by: Wren

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/19/19 11:33 AM

also, IB schools don't always offer AP courses, right?

Are those schools, even if they are private, exclusive rated lower on the adversity because of a lack of AP courses?

Reading several articles and it looks like the top, when the students have great scores, have legacy and great extracurriculars and the bottom with adversity benefit from the system but the middle is the one that misses out. If you are in the bulky middle class and your kid goes to a really good school has great scores and lots of AP, will be in the losing group.
Posted by: Appleton

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/19/19 11:57 PM

I always believed that going to a poorly rated school was bad for a student's admissions chances as they likely weren't as well prepared and a high class rank was less impressive because the competition wasn't as stiff. Now that's being flipped?

I live in Texas and we already have automatic college admissions for the top 10% of students in their high school class to any public university in Texas (except for UT where it's top 6%). With this additional policy, going to a "good" high school isn't looking all that appealing. That in addition to lack of transparency with students in regard to their score as well as concerns for accuracy make this seem like a really bad idea.

My own particular circumstance is one in which my child's adversity level will be overestimated. We make double the median income of our census tract and are more educated. Our son will attend a lower rated (more poverty, worse scores) high school than the one he is zoned to because he's in a gifted magnet program that goes to that school along with regular students. The only thing it's going to score really well on is that they offer a lot of AP classes.

Why can't college admissions officers get a general idea of environment on their own? Why are the writers of the SAT getting involved in something that goes beyond their test? And have people forgotten that income is associated with intelligence? Not all of the score differences between wealthy and poor students are a result of privilege.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/20/19 01:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Appleton
I always believed that going to a poorly rated school was bad for a student's admissions chances as they likely weren't as well prepared and a high class rank was less impressive because the competition wasn't as stiff. Now that's being flipped?

It may never have been true, according to a 2005 paper

The Frog Pond Revisited: High School Academic Context, Class Rank, and Elite College Admission
Abstract
In this article, the authors test a “frog-pond” model of elite college admission proposed by Attewell, operationalizing high school academic context as the secondary school-average SAT score and number of Advanced Placement tests per high school senior. Data on more than 45,000 applications to three elite universities show that a high school's academic environment has a negative effect on college admission, controlling for individual students' scholastic ability. A given applicant's chances of being accepted are reduced if he or she comes from a high school with relatively more highly talented students, that is, if the applicant is a small frog in a big pond. Direct evidence on high school class rank produces similar findings. A school's reputation or prestige has a counterbalancing positive effect on college admission. Institutional gatekeepers are susceptible to context effects, but the influence of school variables is small relative to the characteristics of individual students. The authors tie the findings to prior work on meritocracy in college admission and to the role played by elite education in promoting opportunity or reproducing inequality, and they speculate on the applicability of frog-pond models in areas beyond elite college admission.

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One must of course weigh how much a child learns in high school and earlier and how happy and challenged he or she is with what affects selective college admissions chances. Even from a mercenary point of view, not graduating from college or being forced to shift to a less demanding major because of poor preparation is a bigger financial loss than attending a less prestigious college.
Posted by: Wren

Re: SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ - 05/20/19 04:21 AM

that frog pond paper reflected Harvard's comments at the time, saying they would rather take more kids from styvescant than take the best kid out of MN. Hyperbole here but that is the gist. The kids from Sty were competitive, smart, came from a environment that challenged them and they strove for success. And all of them were in the top 10% or less in a city of 8 million. They also take 7% from the graduating class of Hunter, which is an HG school. So if they are taking 40 kids just from these 2 high schools in NYC, plus the private schools, you need diversity in a way that provides disadvantaged students that would thrive in that academic environment. again, it is that middle would have the hardest time getting in. About 45% get in EA. Whether it is the adversity, legacy, athletes, professor kids. So in the RD, where about 1.5% get in, are the rest.