In May, the College Board announced that it would expand the use of a pilot program that provides an “adversity index” to students’ SAT scores.  The College Board has for several years been testing an “adversity index” designed to place students’ SAT scores in the context of their socioeconomic advantages or disadvantages.  The initial “beta-testing,” restricted to 50 colleges and universities, will soon be provided to 150 schools. So this fall’s test takers who apply to any of these colleges will have this score included.  By 2020, students’ SAT reports will automatically have the adversity index included.

The adversity score is a number on a 100-point scale that amalgamates 31 factors about a student’s school, like rigor of coursework, neighborhood, poverty levels, and crime rates. The higher the number, the more adversity a student has faced. Fifty signals “average” adversity. It’s part of a product called the “Environmental Context Dashboard” that gives admissions officers context for understanding SAT scores. 

The College Board has not shared specifics about these 31 factors. Furthermore, students will not have access to their scores; only college admissions offices will view them. Colleges will have to decide if and how they will use this information. So a lack of transparency has led some students to opt to take the ACT this fall because that test does not include this new index.  In fact, the ACT has come out against the new adversity score  . .  Marten Roorda, CEO of ACT, said that he respects the intent behind the College Board’s move, but he disagrees with it. 

The full impact of this new policy will not be clear for several years.