SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background

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.”

.. Yale University is one of the schools that has tried using applicants’ adversity scores. Yale has pushed to increase socioeconomic diversity and, over several years, has nearly doubled the number of low-income and first-generation-to-attend-college students to about 20% of newly admitted students, said Jeremiah Quinlan, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale.

.. 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. On the dashboard, the score is called “Overall Disadvantage Level.”

An adversity score of 50 is average. Anything above it designates hardship, below it privilege.

The College Board declined to say how it calculates the adversity score or weighs the factors that go into it. The data that informs the score comes from public records such as the U.S. Census as well as some sources proprietary to the College Board, Mr. Coleman said.

.. The College Board began developing the tool in 2015 because colleges were asking for more objective data on students’ backgrounds, said Ms. Betterton. Several college admissions officers said they worry the Supreme Court may disallow race-based affirmative action. If that happens, the value of the tool would rise, they said.“The purpose is to get to race without using race,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Mr. Carnevale formerly worked for the College Board and oversaw the Strivers program.

.. The dashboard may also be an advantage in a tight competition for market share with the ACT, another college-admissions exam. A spokesman for the ACT said it is “investing significant resources” in a comparable tool that is expected to be announced later this year.

At Florida State University, the adversity scores helped the school boost nonwhite enrollment to 42% from 37% in the incoming freshman class, said John Barnhill, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University. He said he expects pushback from parents whose children go to well-to-do high schools as well as guidance counselors there.

“If I am going to make room for more of the [poor and minority] students we want to admit and I have a finite number of spaces, then someone has to suffer and that will be privileged kids on the bubble,” he said.

The roots of male rage, on show at the Kavanaugh hearing

American men do have genuine reasons for anxiety. The traditional jobs that many men have filled are disappearing, thanks to automation and outsourcing. The jobs that remain require, in most cases, higher education, which is increasingly difficult for non-affluent families to afford. We should indeed tremble for the future of both men and women in our country unless we address that problem, and related problems of declining health and well-being for working-class men.

.. Three emotions, all infused by fear, play a role in today’s misogyny. The most obvious is anger — at women making demands, speaking up, in general standing in the way of unearned male privilege. Women were once good mothers and good wives, props and supports for male ambition, the idea goes –but here they are asserting themselves in the workplace. Here they are daring to speak about their histories of sexual abuse at the hands of powerful men. It’s okay for women to charge strangers with rape, especially if the rapist is of inferior social status. But to dare to accuse the powerful is to assail a bastion of privilege to which men still cling.

.. Coupled with anger is envy. All over the world, women are seeing unprecedented success in higher education, holding a majority of university seats. In our nation many universities quietly practice affirmative action for males with inferior scores, to achieve a “gender balance” that is sometimes dictated by commitment to male sports teams, given Title IX’s mandate of proportional funding.

.. But men still feel that women are taking “their” places in college classes, in professional schools.

.. Envy, propelled by fear, can be even more toxic than anger, because it involves the thought that other people enjoy the good things of life which the envier can’t hope to attain through hard work and emulation. Envy is the emotion of Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”

.. And then, beneath the hysteria, lurks a more primitive emotion: disgust at women’s animal bodies.

.. In the United States, we observe this dynamic in racism, in homophobia and even in revulsion toward the bodies of people who are aging. But in every culture male disgust targets women, as emblems of bodily nature, symbolic animals by contrast to males, almost angels with pure minds.

.. Disgust for women’s bodily fluids is fully compatible with sexual desire. Indeed, it often singles out women seen as promiscuous, the repositories of many men’s fluids.

.. as with the apparent defamation of Renate Dolphin in Kavanaugh’s infamous yearbook, men often crow with pride over intercourse with a woman imagined as sluttish and at the same time defame and marginalize her.

.. Disgust is often more deeply buried than envy and anger, but it compounds and intensifies the other negative emotions.

.. Our president seems to be especially gripped by disgust: for women’s menstrual fluids, their bathroom breaks, the blood imagined streaming from their surgical incisions, even their flesh, if they are more than stick-thin.

Max Boot’s Weak Defense of Harvard’s Affirmative Action

“You don’t necessarily want a student body made up entirely of bookworms . . .” This point is often made in defense of race-conscious admissions policies, but it always seems to me to be an attack on a strawman. Who argues that colleges should ignore musical talent, charitable works, or athletic ability? And where’s the evidence that positive non-academic qualities are generally correlated with race? From the proposition that not all students should be bookworms, it does not follow that therefore colleges should put a thumb on the scale for whites over Asians and for blacks and Hispanics over whites. But that logic would have to be valid for Boot’s argument to be pertinent to the controversy.

.. The Supreme Court, by the way, has rejected this kind of remedial justification for racial preferences, in part because it frowns, for obvious reasons, on using race as a proxy for other variables.

..  “There is, moreover, value in a diverse student body. You learn more about life if you go to class with people who are different from you — who have different abilities, different geographic origins, different social classes, different sexualities, different religions, different political views and, yes, different ethnicities.”

.. Boot has only so much space to make his case, so it would be unfair to infer from the fact that he does not substantiate or specify the alleged benefits of this diversity that it cannot be done.

.. Are we really supposed to believe that Harvard is trying with all its might to ensure that the campus has plenty of Pentecostals, Italian-Americans, and Trump supporters?

 

Why Trump Supporters Distrust Immigration and Diversity

But is he addressing legitimate interest-group concerns or is he pandering to racial fears? There is a rather one-sided debate over what motivates Mr. Trump and his supporters. A wave of new books and articles still invoke stereotypes trotted out on election night: Mr. Trump’s “angry white voters” were motivated by racism, resentment, “whitelash,” declining economic or social status, irrational fears of economic or demographic change, or all of the above. They are deluded, confused “Strangers in Their Own Land,” as suggested by the title of a book by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild.

.. “the diversity machine.” This powerful policy juggernaut has quietly and questionably blended together two trends that threaten working- and middle-class whites.

.. It’s the old story of costs and benefits of building America on the backs of cheap immigrant labor.

.. Economic competition fuels ethnic antagonism — and nativism, racism and the like.

.. There has been very little scholarly or public attention paid to a second policy trend that intensified the antagonism born of this ethnically split labor market. In the 1990s, affirmative action’s original mission to right past wrongs against African-Americans was transformed into an expanded list of preferences in the workplace and in higher education for immigrant subgroups (for example, Hispanics, Asians or Pacific Islanders).

.. from 2013 to 2016, medical schools in the United States accepted 94 percent of blacks, 83 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of whites and 58 percent of Asians with top MCAT scores of 30 to 32 and grade-point averages of 3.6 to 3.8;
.. The presidential candidates in 2016 were largely silent on affirmative action, but Mr. Trump said in 2015 that he was “fine with it” though “it’s coming to a time when maybe we don’t need it.”
.. Institutional racism remains a problem, as does immigration and the balancing of assimilation and pluralism. But identity politics and identity policies may have become too divisive and complicated in both theory and practice.

Black people aren’t keeping white Americans out of college. Rich people are.

What better time to change the conversation and re-energize the base? And what better way than by raising the lightning rod that is affirmative action?

.. Justice Department officials attempted to play down the initiative after the story broke, stating that they planned to investigate a single complaint involving Asian American applicants, not whites. But it barely mattered. The message was sent.

.. Affirmative action is a consistent hobbyhorse on the right because it combines real anxieties with compelling falsehoods.
.. At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent. Really leveling the admissions playing field, assuming the Trump administration actually cares about doing so, would involve much broader efforts to redistribute wealth and power. A focus on fringe campaigns against affirmative action suggests it does not.
.. Addressing inequalities in K-12 education, for instance, could help at-risk students of all races increase their chances of attending a top college
.. Pressing universities to drop legacy preferences, following the example of other elite schools such as the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, could free up spots for those without that built-in advantage. Trump’s own wealthy-parent-sponsored education at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by the subsequent admission of three of his four adult children, makes that particular initiative seem unlikely.
.. the Trump Justice Department’s proposed attack on affirmative action is a microcosm of how the president won the 2016 election and continues to maintain a base of support.
First, Trump taps into a mainstream concern, one tied to how America’s economic system is changing and how some individuals are left at the margin:
  • Employment?
  • Immigration?
  • College?
  • Take your pick.
Then, instead of addressing the issue in a way that embraces both its complexity and well-established research, officials opt for simplistic talking points known to inflame an already agitated base: Immigrants are sneaking into the country and stealing your jobs! Minorities are pushing you out of college!

.. The Trump administration assumes that picking race-focused fights is the most successful way to distract from its failures and to pander to a grievance-inspired base. The level of support for this latest attempt may prove it right.

How the System Is ‘Rigged’

In what sense is the system rigged?

Consider Big Media—the elite columnists and commentators, the dominant national press, and the national and cable networks, save FOX. Not in this writer’s lifetime has there been such blanket hatred and hostility of a presidential candidate of a major party.

.. There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants here, with millions more coming. Yet the government consistently refuses to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.

Why should those Americans whose ancestors created, fought, bled and died to preserve America not believe they and their children are being dispossessed of a country that was their patrimony—and without their consent?

.. In the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a Congressional majority voted to end discrimination against black folks.

When did we vote to institute pervasive discrimination against white folks, especially white males, with affirmative action, quotas and racial set-asides? Even in blue states like California, affirmative action is routinely rejected in statewide ballots.

.. We now know, thanks to leaked emails, that not only the superdelegates and the Obama White House but a collaborationist press and the DNC were colluding to deny Sanders any chance at the nomination.

The fix was in. Ask Sanders if he thinks the system is rigged.

.. If there is an issue upon which Americans agree, it is that they want secure borders and an end to trade policies that have shipped abroad the jobs, and arrested the wages, of working Americans.

Yet in a private speech that netted her $225,000 from Brazilian bankers, Hillary Clinton confided that she dreams of a “common market, with open trade and open borders” from Nome, Alaska, to Patagonia.

.. That would mean the end of the USA as a unique, sovereign and independent nation. But the American press, whose survival depends upon the big ad dollars of transnational corporations, is more interested in old tapes of the Donald on The Howard Stern Show.

.. And if they do, Middle America—those who cling to their bibles, bigotries and guns in Barack Obama’s depiction, those “deplorables” who are “racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic,” who are “not America” and are “irredeemable” in Hillary Clinton’s depiction—will have to accept the new regime.

How Colleges Can Again Be Levelers of Society

Most highly rated colleges say they seek qualified low-income students. But a vast majority enroll very few. At the most competitive colleges, only 17 percent of students are poor enough to receive the federal education stipends known as Pell Grants. That’s just one percentage point higher than in 2000.

.. At Vassar, by contrast, 24 percent of the student body qualifies for Pell grants.

.. At the country’s most selective schools, three percent of students come from families in the bottom economic quartile, while the top economic quartile supplies 72 percent. A high-achieving poor student is only one-third as likely to go to a competitive school as her wealthier counterpart.

.. A student who could get into a top school is nearly twice as likely to graduate there than if she goes to a noncompetitive school. The top colleges are the only ones where students of all income levels graduate at the same rates. The reason is money: Selective colleges are richer. They can afford to provide specialized counseling and lots of financial aid. And running out of money is the most common reason people drop out.

.. the share of low-income students at highly selective colleges could rise by 30 to 60 percent with no decrease in academic quality

.. Tied to money is the death grip of U.S. News & World Report’s much-criticized college rankings. Colleges seek to move up in the rankings by competing on selectivity, student test scores, alumni giving and academic spending, among other metrics on which colleges do best when they stick to privileged students.

.. The college ranking system of The Washington Monthlyprovides a valuable alternative. It rates colleges for their contribution to the public good, considering (in addition to graduation rates, which U.S. News also looks at) the percentage of students from low-income families, innovative research and the percentage of students who do national service.

.. Harvard’s admission rate for these legacies, for example, is four times higher than for regular applicants. There is no more direct way to perpetuate privilege.

.. Most controversially, even affirmative action can discriminate against the poor, the report said. Nearly 90 percent of African-American students at selective colleges, some of whom were admitted through racial preferences, are middle- or upper-class.

.. Vassar was founded to serve another group that wasn’t accepted at elite colleges: women. Traditionally, white, wealthy Protestant women.

.. Part of the aid for needy students came from ending merit aid, which often went to students who didn’t need it.

.. American colleges get large government subsidies to help them provide social mobility for all. They benefit from Pell Grants and federal loans. Colleges get huge tax breaks for their nonprofit status. “Some 25 to 35 percent of our revenues probably come from these privileges,”

.. need-blind is the wrong approach: instead, colleges should givepriority to low-income students. The True Merit report argues that it is relatively easy for a wealthy student at a prep school to get top grades and test scores. A poor student from a poor school who does so must be someone with unusual amounts of grit and tenacity. “Current admissions fail to acknowledge this difference,”