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 College Board says it would be made available to all colleges in 2020.
“This is a tool designed for admission officers to view a student’s academic accomplishment in the context of where they live and learn,” said a spokeswoman for the College Board. The Environmental Context Dashboard, as it is called, “doesn’t provide information about the student. It provides information about the student’s environment. It puts a student’s SAT score and other academic accomplishments included in their college application in the context of where they live and learn.”
The College Board is able to produce the index based on databases it has about just about every high school, and those databases have been expanded to include information about neighborhoods. An underlying theory of the system (backed by most demographers) is that most high schools and neighborhoods in the United States are not terribly diverse economically. So it is the rare high school that has many wealthy and many low-income students. Thus information about the high school and surrounding neighborhood would be useful, College Board officials said. In addition, the College Board is including information on SAT averages and Advanced Placement enrollments and test scores — and the board has access to that material from its own operations.
Among the factors that would go into the adversity index are some that are economic (proportion of students at a school who are eligible for free or reduced lunch), that reflect economic challenges (housing instability) and educational status (percentage of students who go on to college). A score would be on a scale up to 100.