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SAT 'adversity' score scrapped by College Board following blowback

Brittany De Lea

The College Board has decided not to move forward with a plan to assign prospective college students an “adversity" score, which it had considered as a means to take the social and economic backgrounds of applicants into account.

The group’s decision to backtrack on assigning each student an individual score comes following criticism: The score would have been calculated using 15 criteria, including crime rates in communities where students grew up and poverty levels. The scores were meant to be viewed by colleges only, and students would not be aware of their rating.

Instead, the organization will use a method called Landscape, which analyzes an array of data points but does not combine them into a single score. It will allow both colleges and families to see data about the high school and neighborhoods of students – including things like AP course participation and performance, senior class size, percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, as well as household structure and median family income.

"We listened to thoughtful criticism and made Landscape better and more transparent," David Coleman, CEO of the 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."

Landscape is intended to help colleges consider what students have achieved in the context of where they have lived and learned. It is designed to be weighed alongside things like personal essays, GPAs and test scores.

In May, a spokesperson for the College Board told FOX Business the initial adversity score was intended to help colleges focus on finding unseen talent.


Those efforts came on the heels of a huge college admissions scandal, whereby wealthy families essentially paid bribes in order to help their child's chances of being admitted to prestigious universities. In some cases, parents paid to have SAT proctors doctor the results of their kids’ tests. In other cases, they paid to make it appear as though their children were sports recruits.

This year, colleges will receive more than 10 million applications from students, according to the College Board.

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