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.

Federal Prosecutors Charge Dozens in College Admissions Cheating Scheme

Charges involve cheating on college entrance exams, efforts to bribe coaches; Actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among those indicted

In one instance, prosecutors said, the head women’s soccer coach at Yale accepted a $400,000 bribe in exchange for admitting a candidate as a recruited athlete. The student didn’t even play competitive soccer, according to prosecutors. After the student was admitted, her parents paid a college admissions consultant $1.2 million.

The consultant, William Singer, is expected to plead guilty to racketeering and other crimes Tuesday afternoon. He allegedly facilitated the fraud through Newport Beach, Calif.-based the Edge College & Career Network LLC.

Mr. Singer allegedly accepted payments in exchange for arranging that some of the teens could sit for the SAT or ACT college-entrance exams with extra time by getting doctor’s notes detailing learning disabilities or other issues, and that they take the tests with proctors who had been bribed to either correct wrong answers or take the test on the student’s behalf. Parents paid Mr. Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 for the test help, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Singer also allegedly helped parents work with coaches to claim admission spots reserved for recruited athletes, staging photos of the teens playing sports or photo-shopping images of the teens’ faces onto stock photos of young athletes.

Prosecutors alleged that charitable organizations were used as fronts for the bribery payments, which figured into the tens or hundreds of thousands in certain cases. Parents made the payments in the form of donations to his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation

Other high-profile parents named in the case include Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of New York City law firm Willkie Farr.

Also charged was Bill McGlashan, founder and managing partner of TPG Growth, the arm of the private-equity firm that invests in fast-growing companies, including Airbnb Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. With $13.2 billion in assets, TPG’s growth business has played a prominent role in the firm’s strategy since the financial crisis, and Mr. McGlashan’s star has risen at the firm.

I Learned to Love Standardized Tests

They don’t have to be basic, boring or biased. A good question provokes deep engagement.

In the past, tests such as the SAT and ACT may have resulted in discrimination against particular groups. But this doesn’t imply testing should be abandoned. The real alternative to discrimination is to have the best, fairest tests possible. That’s why these days every standardized-test question is tested for bias. Questions are judged on several scales, including their “differential item functioning”: Subgroups of students—black males, white females, suburban kids, rural ones, Southern students, students living in poverty—are controlled for overall ability. Auditors compare the performance of these subgroups, and if any of them underperform on a particular question, it’s thrown out and never used. In addition, we don’t ask questions on certain topics. We know boys do better than girls on questions about sports, and rich kids do better than poor kids on questions about sailing, so we leave those subjects out.